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Paul Michael Brule, a 30-year-old Council Bluffs, Iowa man who received $10,000 weekly payouts from lottery winnings, was slain in his Sixth Avenue home in the early morning hours on Saturday, July 25, 1998, and his death poorly staged to mimic a suicide.
Brule’s father, Michael Brule, and sisters Michelle (Brule) Stephens and Jamie Brule discovered his lifeless body behind the 2118 Sixth Avenue home after finding his motorcycle out front on its side.
Brule normally parked the bike against the house in the home’s back yard.
The three found Brule’s body slumped against a tree — his knees touching the ground — with a nylon clothesline rope tied around his neck.
Michael Brule reported the incident at 10:54 a.m.
Brule wasn’t breathing when Council Bluffs police arrived, and officials determined time of death as sometime between 1:45 and 7 a.m.
Investigators found no notes left behind or anything else to indicate the death could be ruled a suicide with any certainty.
Brule seldom parted with family members or friends without saying “I love you.”
The week before his slaying, he’d lost his job, but the weekly lotto payments had already enabled him to make life better for his parents, three siblings and grandmother, all of whom resided in Council Bluffs.
On Friday night, Brule’s younger sister, Jamie, sat on the neighbor’s porch across the street, babysitting the neighbor’s children. Brule rode up to the house on his bike, carrying a bottle of beer, and gave her a big smile. He was going to the home of friends Wendall Vincent and Troy Petersen, he said, to have some drinks.
“Be good. I love you,” he said to Jamie before driving away.
Brule and his brother, Shane Brule, spent part of the evening drinking with Vincent and Petersen.
On weekends, Brule’s sister, Michelle, took over their father’s paper route, with Paul Brule, Shane, or Jamie usually accompanying her. That particular weekend, it was “one of the boys’ turns to go,” Jamie (Brule) Reed told Iowa Cold Cases in personal correspondence sent in June 2015.
Around 11 p.m. Friday night, Michelle went to Vincent and Petersen’s home to get one of her brothers, but said both were too drunk to go with her. Michelle told them to have fun and that she would do the paper route on her own.
Brule decided to leave his friends’ home around midnight, telling both them and his brother he loved them and would see them the following day. Shane Brule would end up spending the night with the friends.
Jamie arrived home around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, and didn’t see anyone at the house except her dad, who was sound asleep. She went to bed.
Michelle finished the paper route and arrived home at about 4:30 a.m. She looked around for “the boys,” but neither appeared to be home, so she went to bed as well.
Later Saturday morning, Jamie, Michelle, and their father found Paul Brule’s body slumped against a tree about 10 to 15 feet from the home’s back door.
Council Bluffs police reported his death “may have been a suicide,” and news about Brule’s death quietly slipped from the news.
Though convinced Paul Brule hadn’t taken his own life, his family had no further information until a close associate recently came forward to provide specific details about what really happened the night of Brule’s death. (Tipster’s contact information on file and available to law enforcement personnel.)
According to the tipster, an individual named C.B. (full name and contact info on file for law enforcement) punched an intoxicated Brule in the head in the early morning hours on the back porch of Brule’s Sixth Avenue home.
The source said when Brule fell, his head landed across the threshold of the back porch’s sliding glass door. C.B. then repeatedly slammed the sliding door — striking Brule’s head and neck between the door and its frame — until Brule’s neck appeared broken and his body lifeless.
Two other men, the source said, helped C.B. drag Brule’s body into the home’s back yard, where they wrapped a nylon clothesline rope around Brule’s neck before placing him, on his knees, slumped against a tree in what they hoped would be ruled a suicide by hanging.
Armed with the new information about her brother’s death, Jamie Reed contacted Iowa Cold Cases with more details, ending her letter with a simple plea: “Please Help.”
Paul Michael Brule was born December 9, 1967, in Crookston, Minnesota to Michael and Linda Brule.
He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1986 and worked as a laborer.
He was killed in his Council Bluffs, Iowa home Saturday, July 25, 1998, at age 30 years, 7 months and 13 days.
Funeral services were held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, 1998, at McCurdy Funeral Chapel with the Rev. Bill Dolan of Queen of Apostles Catholic Church officiating.
Visitation with the family was held Monday night, July 27, with the family present from 7 to 8 at the funeral home.
Music for the services included “Crimson and Clover” and “Purple Rain.”
Honorary Pallbearers included Joe Brule, Lee May, Patrick White, Wayne May, Al Bates and Troy Peterson.
Paul was laid to rest in Garner Township Cemetery in Council Bluffs following Tuesday’s services.
Survivors included his parents, Michael and Linda Brule of Council Bluffs; two sisters, Michelle Stephens and Jamie Brule, both of Council Bluffs; a brother, Shane, of Council Bluffs; a grandmother, Edith Briggs, of Council Bluffs; and aunts and uncles.
Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Det. Doug Mann at the Council Bluffs Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at (712) 326-2507.