Monroeville native's death raises questions

University professor, wife found in Nebraska home

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Police in Nebraska are trying to determine if the deaths this week of a doctor, a Monroeville native, and his wife are connected to the 2008 killing of his colleague's son and housekeeper.

Roger and Mary Brumback, both 65, were found dead in their home Tuesday morning after someone called for police to check on them, Omaha police Officer Michael Pecha said Thursday.

Police are investigating the deaths as a double homicide. They mark the second killing in connection with the Creighton University pathology department, where Dr. Brumback was a professor and department chair, in five years.

Thomas Hunter, 11, and Shirlee Sherman, 57, the son and housekeeper of his colleague William Hunter, were fatally stabbed inside the family's home in 2008, the Omaha World-Herald reported. That case remains unsolved.

"The safety of our citizens is the top priority of the Omaha Police Department," Omaha police Chief Todd Schmaderer said in a statement Thursday.

"We will leave no stone unturned to bring justice and closure to not only the families involved but to our [citizens] of Omaha as well."

A 1965 graduate of Gateway High School, Dr. Brumback also was a member of the inaugural class of Penn State University's medical school.

The World-Herald is reporting the Brumbacks were discovered Tuesday morning when a piano mover, Jason Peterson, called police after he arrived at the couple's home and found the front door unlocked and a large-caliber gun clip on the threshold.

He told the paper he saw the doctor's body but no blood.

Authorities have not released additional details.

The Douglas County coroner did not return a message.

Friends and family have been stunned to learn of the death of the pediatric neurologist and pathologist, who had recently retired from Creighton and planned to move to West Virginia with his wife next month.

Longtime friend E. Steve Roach, chief of neurology at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, would exchange emails with Dr. Brumback once or twice a week and said nothing seem out of the ordinary.

"Roger and Mary, too, really, were just uniformly helpful, generous people," he said. "They're just such nice people, it's hard to imagine anybody having anything truly against them."

He added, "If you could have your child marry into a family, it would be a family like this. What a loss."

Dr. Brumback was planning to take a mostly administrative position at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, W.Va., Dr. Roach said.

The couple, who have three adult children, would also be closer to Dr. Brumback's mother, who lives in Monroeville, and Ms. Brumback's mother in Maryland, friends said.

The couple met at Penn State, where Mrs. Brumback studied pharmacy, before pursuing a career in law. In 1989, the two co-authored "The Dietary Fiber Weight Control Handbook."

A scholarship has been set up in their honor at the Penn State medical school, the doctor's sister, Carol Brumback, said.

Friends praised Dr. Brumback's career, which spanned decades of research, including notable work in Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Roach noted his friend's efforts to help young academics trying to get published as the longtime editor of the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine and the Journal of Child Neurology.

In a statement on its website, Creighton said Dr. Brumback referred to himself as a "born-again conservationist" after he discovered a species of owl monkey now named for him.

Before arriving at the university in 2001, Dr. Brumback spent 14 years at the University of Oklahoma.

nation - neigh_east

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede.


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