Chris Christie Team Member Dead in Murder-Suicide

Joan Bramhall may have been suffering from dementia

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Aug 9, 2014 12:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – A member of Republican Gov. Chris Christie's transition team and her husband were under "enormous stress" in the weeks before he fatally shot her and then killed himself, their daughter said. Lorraine "Lori" Bramhall told the Daily Record that John Bramhall believed his wife of 54 years, Joan, was suffering from dementia. Lori Bramhall disagreed with the assessment, saying her mother could be "forgetful" but there were no apparent changes in her personality. But longtime friend Keith Pierson told the newspaper that Joan Bramhall did appear to have some mental issues.

He said she recently asked him whether President Richard Nixon, who died in 1994, was still alive, and he sometimes noticed she had a "vacant" demeanor. Authorities have not said what might have prompted the murder-suicide in the couple's Denville home. A medical examiner ruled Joan Bramhall's death a homicide, while John Bramhall's death was ruled a suicide. A family member found the bodies Thursday morning and called police. Joan Bramhall was a former Morris County clerk who was well-known in Republican political circles. She retired in December. In a statement, Christie hailed Bramhall as an "outstanding public servant but an even better person" who would be sorely missed by family and friends. Click for more.

In this Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 photo, police tape lines the scene at a home in Denville, NJ, where authorities were investigating the deaths of John Bramhall and Joan Bramhall.
In this Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 photo, police tape lines the scene at a home in Denville, NJ, where authorities were investigating the deaths of John Bramhall and Joan Bramhall.   (Bob Karp)
In this Jan. 16, 2014 file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Manahawkin, NJ.
In this Jan. 16, 2014 file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Manahawkin, NJ.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
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