ND Farm owner among 4 dead in suspected murder-suicide

BISMARCK, ND (AP) — Volunteers were organizing in North Dakota on Wednesday to finish harvesting a farmer who was found dead in his wheat field along with three other men in what investigators described as a murder-suicide.

Douglas Dulmage, 56, was shot dead in his combine harvester while harvesting wheat in his field south of Cando, said Pat Traynor, a close friend. Authorities said the other three men – Justin Bracken, 34; Richard Bracken, 64; and Robert Bracken, 59 – had all worked the harvest with Dulmage.

A .357 caliber revolver was found near one of the bodies by deputies responding to a report of four unconscious people in the wheat field on Monday evening. Officials did not say who they believe pulled the trigger or detail other circumstances surrounding the case. Towner County Sheriff Andrew Hillier said investigators are awaiting autopsy results.

Traynor said Dulmage owned the property. The other three men are related and lived in the area, the sheriff’s office said.

Traynor said Dulmage lived with his wife and two daughters in Leeds, but farmed with his 95-year-old father on their land outside the city. He said local farmers and friends of the Dulmage family have already held a meeting on how they will handle the work of harvesting wheat, corn and soybeans.

The deaths are a blow to the farming community at a time that typically precedes harvest celebrations, the leader of a North Dakota farm group said.

“It’s hard to grasp and understand why something like this can happen in rural North Dakota,” said state Farm Bureau Chairman Daryl Lies. Lies said Dulmage served as president of the Benson County Agricultural Bureau.

Traynor said the Dulmage family was “living through a complete nightmare”.

“Doug was a pillar in the community. He was a discreet servant leader. His actions speak volumes about his tremendous strength of character,” he said. Traynor said his friend was also a volunteer firefighter and community leader in Leeds.

“Doug lived God, faith and family through his actions and not just his words,” he said. “He was a role model for all of us. We should be more like him,” he said.

Emily Stoll, 82, a neighbor of the Dulmage family in Leeds, a town of around 500, described Doug Dulmage as a kind and helpful neighbour.

“When he was spraying his yard for mosquitoes, he was also spraying mine,” she said.

Cando is 118 miles (189.9 kilometers) west of Grand Forks and 40 miles (64.3 kilometers) south of the Canadian border.


Ehlke reported from suburban Milwaukee. Researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.

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