Before he died, David Branagan placed himself at the scene of three murders that occurred on his block in Shaker Heights, between 1985 and 1990 – the murders of Phillip and Dorothy Porter, and the murder of Lisa Pruett. He told the mother of his child that he was breaking into homes the night of Lisa’s murder.
Last week I was contacted by Kim, a woman who dated Branagan when she was a freshman at Shaker Heights High. She was just 14. Branagan was a 17 year old junior. Because of her age, her father put a strict curfew on Branagan’s visits – he had to go home by 9 p.m. But Branagan didn’t like that and started breaking into her home so that he could secretly see her, later. The first time he did this she found him hiding in her bathroom. Sometimes he’d appear in her bedroom on the third floor. To this day, she has no idea how he was able to get inside.
Once he was inside, he would pressure her to have sex, telling her that if she didn’t or if she sent him home, he’d make enough noise to wake up her dad. To give you an idea of how sneaky Branagan was, Kim’s dad was a Vietnam vet, always alert to possible threats and intruders, and he never once heard him.
“He was a master manipulator,” she says. “I didn’t realize how fucked up this was until I was an adult. He was brilliant. Off-the-charts brilliant. He’s 20 steps ahead of everyone. And he was extraordinarily good at lying Do I think he was capable of killing Lisa? Yes, I do. But we all had it in our minds back then that it was Kevin Young. That’s what they told everyone and so nobody was looking into David.”
Branagan was also friends with Tex Workman and was with Tex at Arabica the day of Lisa’s murder, when Tex told Kevin that Lisa Pruett was sneaking out of her house that night to meet up with her boyfriend, Dan Dreifort. Kim believes Branagan may have met Lisa on her route to Dan’s and offered to escort her the rest of the way – he had just walked his girlfriend home and her house was around the corner from Lisa’s.
Lisa was stabbed to death, the murder weapon never found. Branagan, says Kim, always had a knife on him. He collected them. Not Swiss-Army knives, but big, skinning knives for “protection.”
Shaker Heights police currently consider Lisa’s murder investigation as “inactive.”