Pitchfork Killings Leave Father Stunned

ByABC News
August 25, 2000, 1:43 PM

M E R C E D, Calif., Aug. 25 -- After a sleepless night mourning the deaths of two children to a stranger with a pitchfork and no clear motive, John Carpenter slipped out of the hospital and headed to get some doughnuts.

If he thought there would be a place to escape his grief, hequickly found out it wasnt at a popular coffee shop in hishometown.

Guys twice my size were breaking down and crying, Carpentersaid Thursday. They just cant believe it.

Beyond the waves of friends and family members who visited thehospital, there was a community grieving over a seemingly randomact of violence against his family while he was working as abuilder and his wife, Tephanie Carpenter, 34, was taking her car tothe garage to get the brakes serviced.

The security of a life on the rural outskirts of the city 60miles north of Fresno had been shattered when a stranger broke intohis farmhouse Wednesday, terrorized his five children and stabbedtwo of them to death before being shot and killed by sheriffsdeputies.

Now Carpenter, his eyes red from crying and lack of sleep, wastrying to figure out why it happened and how he would move forwardwith his wife and three surviving daughters, one of whom was stillrecovering from stab wounds.

Its such a shock, Carpenter said. You keep pinchingyourself. I got to wake up.

Investigators were still baffled by what led 27-year-oldJonathon David Bruce on such a violent rampage. They knew of noconnection between the family and the attacker, who was identifiedthrough fingerprint records from a 1999 arrest for being under theinfluence of methamphetamine and fighting with police.

Very, Very Bizarre A woman who had lived near him said the former telemarketerhated children, but little else was clear.

The whole thing is very, very bizarre, said Merced CountySheriff Tom Sawyer, who thought he had seen everything in a 33-yearlaw enforcement career.