Sadly, Brandon Armstrong will never grow up. 
On October 26, 1997, he was murdered, along with his three little brothers, by their mother. 

Susan Eubanks is now on death row in California, convicted after the jury deliberated only two hours.

         
   
     



(Click on the small photos below to see original)

brandon Oct. 14_1983.jpg (262307 bytes)Brandon Armstrong was born on July 13th, 1983 in Galveston Texas. His birth was a traumatic one to say the least. His mother was in difficult labor for about ten hours. This was our first child and, subsequently, my only biological child. His mother would not dilate past an eight and his head was stuck in the birth canal towards the end of her labor. The doctor had placed a device on his head to monitor his heart rate.  The hospital was very busy at that time and the doctor was trying to wait for her to dilate on her own. The nurses had begun to attend to other duties after giving Brandon’s mother several epidurals to relieve the pain she was experiencing.

Brandon S.F. Texas.jpg (286630 bytes)I was left in the room alone with my son’s mother to keep an eye on the monitor that was to alert us if his heart rate dropped below the danger level as described to me by the doctor. At some point Brandon’s heart rate did drop below the danger level and I got up and summoned the nurse. It was then that I could tell that something was wrong. The nurse brought the doctor immediately and there was a sudden flurry of activity. I heard comments such as “We will lose this baby if we don’t hurry” and “His heart rate is too low, brain damage could occur”. 

Click to enlargeWithin what seemed like seconds the private room that we occupied was full of people, shouting orders for medicine and arranging to transport Brandon’s mother to an awaiting operating room. Half a dozen people took hold of the hospital bed that my son’s mother was in and began running with it full blast down the long hallway that led to the operating room that had been set up for cesarean sections.  They burst through two sets of swinging doors on the way. Not slowing down for anything or anybody! They were running to save the life of my son. They reached an area that had several operating rooms adjacent to one another and wheeled the hospital bed into one of them only to be told that it was the wrong room! It hadn’t been prepped for cesarean sections. They quickly wheeled the bed out of that room and wheeled it into a room two doors down. All the while I heard the panic and fear in the doctor and the nurse’s voices.

bc1.jpg (90822 bytes)Although we had gone through Lamaze classes so that I could be in the room, when my son was born I was not allowed in because it was an emergency operation. So I had to stand outside while the doctor performed the operation that would hopefully save Brandon’s life. All the while thoughts went through my head about what would happen. Would he die? Would he have brain damage because of the lack of oxygen to his brain caused by fetal distress?

BAAirCarrier2.jpg (151137 bytes)I cannot tell you how long the operation lasted because I cannot remember. What I do remember is the moment that the doctor handed me the human being that I had helped create, it was an experience like no other I have ever known. It was such an overwhelming feeling of joy and pride and happiness that I cannot describe it. Brandon was perfectly healthy from head to toe. I examined him very carefully from head to toe and found only one very small area of blue on his big toe (which I was later told is normal). Other than that he was just fine.

BAKindergarten.jpg (288409 bytes)Brandon was a blessing from God from day one. His birth was one of several miracles that were bestowed upon him. As Brandon grew older it was evident that his traumatic birth had left absolutely no ill effects on him. He walked at eight months and talked in three word sentences by the time he was a year old.  He loved to sing and play jokes on his grandfather (Papa).  He was very smart and very happy child.

BAAirCarrier1.jpg (124890 bytes)In 1987 Brandon, his mother, our dog, our cat and myself moved to Valley Center California. This is in San Diego County. The work in my field had slowed down in the Houston area at that time and my parents had previously moved to California and sent word that there was plenty of work out there, so we moved.  

brandon 1989.jpg (136264 bytes)In 1989 Brandon’s mother and I had separated. I filed for divorce and attempted to gain full custody of my son. It was a long drawn out divorce battle due to the fact that I wanted full custody. While we were separated we mutually agreed to share Brandon 50/50. I would keep him for a week then his mother would pick him up from school on Friday and she would keep him for a week. It would alternate like that for two years, with Brandon going to the same school etc. He just had two homes where he shared time equally with us. 

brandon 1990.jpg (261703 bytes)The divorce was final around 1992 and the court split the custody 50/50. We had joint physical and legal custody of Brandon and he seemed to adjust to this arrangement well. He did fine in school and had the same friends whether he was with his mom or me.

At one point during our separation Brandon was staying with his mom and he was hitting a piece of plastic pipe on a tractor. The pipe shattered and a piece of it poked him in his eye and then fell out. Before the surgeon took my son into the operating room he told us weGrandma_ Brandon and Rusty.jpg (42513 bytes) were fighting two things:  (1) the pipe that had cut his eye was dirty so a brain infection was a good possibility and (2) he would have to take Brandon so far under during surgery that there was a chance he might not wake up.  The doctor stitched up Brandon’s shattered cornea and tied three perfect square knots in his eye.  After surgery, which went well, Brandon spent a week of pure agony at the hospital.  

Brandon’s grandmother and I took turns sitting by his bedside.  We had to wake him up every one-half hour, twenty-four hours a day, for seven days, to apply three ice-cold antibiotic eye drops into his eye.  Brandon was kept out of school for two months.  When brandon post eye injury.jpg (395810 bytes)he did go back to school for the next several months, his classmates were told of the fragile condition of his eye and they were very careful not to jar him suddenly, as the doctor had warned that could destroy his eye.  Brandon stayed in the library during recess and lunch for many months until his eye healed completely. pack 662 san marcos ca.jpg (146495 bytes)

 Through all the pain and frustration, he never complained.  The doctor said that he was lucky to have the eye still in his head and that it would a miracle if he could ever see out of it.  Not only did he recover from the dangerous surgery, but he had 20/30 vision! Better than I have!  

Brandon had a good life. He enjoyed Cub Scouts, going to the beach, playing with friends, and going on “wolf hunts” with his paternal grandfather in Valley Center.  He started school in California and the same friends he had in kindergarten were with him as he entered into high school.  

Brandon’s mother re-married and had three more sons with her second husband, Eric. Brandon’s step dad loved Brandon very much. As far as he was concerned, he had four sons. Brandon also loved Eric very much, always related with pride and joy the things that he and Eric would do together. My parents and I were always thankful that Brandon had such a kind and loving stepfather.  (Picture to the right is Austin Eubanks.)

Brandon loved his brothers completely.  He was devoted to them; just how much we did not realize until after his death.  He was their protector.  He felt that he could never leave his brothers because he wanted to be sure that they were safe.

Pictured below are Brandon's brothers, Brigham, Matthew and Austin Eubanks

Brigham Eubanks, Brandon's brother

Brandon easter suit.jpg (186104 bytes)In 1995, I returned to Texas and bought a home.  Brandon and I would keep in contact through phone conversations at least three to four times a week. We would talk about his football games or his new girlfriend or about what was going on in school at the time. Brandon came for a visit at Christmas of 1995 for one month. He visited again in April of 1996 for six weeks and again at Christmas of 1996. The next time he came for a visit was the day after his birthday in 1997. He stayed for one month and was planning to come back Christmas of 1997. 

awards assembly @ woodland park elem.jpg (192816 bytes)In 1996, I met a loving, gentle woman, with five daughters, who would later become my wife.  Brandon enjoyed long talks with Maria and took comfort in the fact that I had met someone who made me happy.  He and his new sisters took to each other right away and we had good times when he came to visit us.

Then, in October of 1997, my cousin and I were in Corpus Christi, Texas for a month-long job. On the evening of October 26, 1997, I received a phone call in our motel room from Brandon’s mother.  She was obviously very upset and told me that I needed to talk to my son and to tell him to stick with her even if it came to lying. She was in the process of getting a divorce from her second husband, Eric, and was currently dating another man.  At the time of the phone call she was also having problems with her new boyfriend. She had vandalized his car and was worried that the police would come and arrest her and take the boys. 

brandon first yr soccer.jpg (292640 bytes) She wanted me to talk Brandon into lying for her. About what, I do not know.  It was about 8:45 p.m. as I spoke with Brandon, I asked him what was going on and he said “Oh, the same old stuff.”  I told him that his mother wanted me to talk to him and to tell him to stick with her even if it came to lying.  He said “I’m not lying for her anymore; she gets herself into these things, she can get herself out this time.”  When I told him that I would get him a plane ticket that night and he could come to stay with me, he said “No Dad, I can’t do that. I have my brothers here and I don’t want to leave them.”  I told him that I would get myself a ticket and be in California that night.  He said, “No Dad, I don’t want you to get into the middle of all that is going on around here.”  

brandon1991.jpg (226270 bytes)So we continued our conversation talking about other things such as football and school. Around 9:15 Texas time Brandon’s mother told him to get off of the phone.  She told him to tell me she would call me back.  I told my son that I loved him and that he should pray about what was going on.  We then said goodbye and hung up the phone.  I never received another call that night.

 

Brandon soccer second year.jpg (207696 bytes)The next day at work I had a strange feeling that something was wrong.  I said little prayers all day long praying that Brandon, my wife and the girls and my parents were okay. That evening after work we got back to the motel room about 8:00 P.M.  My cousin received a phone call from his brother around 8:30. I could tell from his actions that something was wrong. I waited until he hung up the phone then I asked him what was wrong.  He said that he couldn’t tell me but that my parents and my wife were coming to Corpus to tell me something.  It was at that instant that I knew my son was dead.  It’s hard to explain, but I just knew.  It is a four-hour drive from my home in Texas City to Corpus Christi. I had four hours to go over in my mind how my son had died. Was he hit by a car while on his bicycle? Was he killed by his mother’s boyfriend in a fit of rage? Were his mom and all the kids killed in a car accident?  After about three hours I fell asleep, exhausted from the things going through my mind.  The next thing I remember is my wife waking me as my mother sat down on my bed beside me.  I asked my mom, “How did it happen?”  She said, “How did what happen?”  I said, “How did Brandon die?” She said, “You mean how did she kill all of her babies?!!”  At that moment my world collapsed.

The court records show that Susan killed her four children just minutes after I hung up the phone with Brandon on the evening of October 26th.  Brandon was eating a bowl of cereal in the living room.  She shot him once in the neck and once in the left temple.  She then went to his bedroom where his brothers had gathered on the bunk beds and shot them one at a time in order of their ages.  She had to reload the gun twice to kill her children.  She then called Eric and left a message on his voice mail saying, “Say goodbye.” It has been speculated that her plan was to shoot Eric when he arrived and frame him for killing the children.  But Eric called the police and asked them to meet him at the house.  It was not until she saw the police coming up the lane to her house that she shot herself in the stomach. 

I remember very well the day my son was born. I also remember very well the day he was killed. In between these two times are the memories that I will cherish forever. 

Please visit Brandon's House, an organization established in my son's memory.  Statistics show that children under age 5 are in the greatest peril at the hands of their own parents, with mothers killing nearly as often as fathers.  Brandon’s House is a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Organization founded and dedicated to the memory of Brandon Armstrong and his three little brothers, Austin, Brigham, and Matthew Eubanks.
 

John Armstrong

Brandon's last visit 8-97.jpg (44982 bytes)

 

    

         
   
     

    

 

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Memorial - click to enlarge


Brandon's House

 


Brandon's favorite team


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