Woman plays dead to survive attempted murder

Husband attempts to kill his estranged wife

A Rockford woman feigned death to stop a brutal attack at the hands of her estranged husband, and fled to the Rockford McDonalds restaurant for help after her spouse attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. The events took place the evening of Friday, February 15.

Marshall and Pamela Brabo (65 and 57 respectively) had been living apart after Pamela Brabo filed for divorce in November of last year after 30 years of marriage. They had dinner together the night of Feb. 15, at his house in the 8400 block of Courtland Dr. NE in Courtland Township (directly across from the Rum Creek Condominium Community in Rockford) to resolve questions about their impending divorce.

This well kept house in the 8400 block of  Courtland Dr. NE, in a quiet neighborhood on the edge of Rockford’s far-east side, was recently the scene of a murderous act of domestic violence.  Photo by Cliff Hill

This well kept house in the 8400 block of
Courtland Dr. NE, in a quiet neighborhood on the edge of Rockford’s far-east side, was recently the scene of a murderous act of domestic violence. Photo by Cliff Hill

As she was about to leave around 8 p.m., the conversation turned ugly when Marshall Brabo, allegedly reached into a drawer for a crowbar and began to bludgeon his estranged wife in the head. A Kent County Sheriff’s detective wrote in an affidavit that investigating officers had also found a bloody hammer and a crescent wrench that allegedly had also been used in the brutal attack.

Fearing for her life, Pamela Brabo dropped to the floor and played dead. At that point Marshall Brabo stopped hitting her.

Feigning death for what was an estimated 2 hours she heard her husband grab pill bottles in another room. Believing her husband had consumed the pills and passed out, she crawled outside to her car and drove a very short distance to the Rockford MacDonalds on 10-Mile Rd. (East Division St.).

At approximately 11:45 p.m. Friday evening, pulling alongside a car at the drive-through window of the MacDonalds, a bloody and battered Pamela Brabo pleaded for help from the vehicle’s occupants who relayed the information to the store manager inside. The manager quickly called 911 and an ambulance and police were dispatched.

Upon arrival ambulance paramedics, amid freezing temperatures, extracted her from her vehicle and rushed her to the hospital where she was treated for an undisclosed period. She sustained multiple skull fractures, two broken front teeth, a right cheek and nose fracture, and cuts requiring 40 staples along with bruised ribs.

Kent County Undersheriff John Hess said that, “Had she not pretended to play dead, there’s a good possibility this would have been a homicide.”

Subsequently thereafter, in the early morning hours of Saturday, February 16, police found Marshall Brabo passed out and laying on the floor of the Courtland Dr. NE home. Allegedly, he had taken 30 to 40 sleeping pills in an apparent suicide attempt.

Marshall Brabo was arraigned Monday, February 18, before Judge Sarah Smolinski in Kent County District Court on a charge of attempted murder. He is currently being held in the Kent County jail on a $1 million bond.

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