Students Remember Retired Brandon Valley Teacher Killed in Triple Murder-Suicide

BRANDON, S.D. – The Brandon, South Dakota community is remembering 70-year-old Dan Murphy. Police in Maryland say he was the victim of a triple murder-suicide on Monday. Murphy was an employee in the Brandon Valley School District from 1969 to 2004. This news comes on Teacher Appreciation Week. KDLT’s Allison Royal takes us to Brandon where students are remembering one of their favorite seventh grade teachers that was taken too soon.

“What a memory!” said Ariel Beaird.

Dan Murphy went above and beyond for the community. He built Ariel’s childhood deck – a place still standing strong. Just like the cherished first day of school and Halloween photos, the deck has stood the test of time.

“Yeah, this deck was sturdy,” said Ariel.

Mr. Murphy was also Ariel’s seventh grade English teacher. On Wednesday, visiting the wooden porch feels a little different ever since Ariel got the news that Mr. Murphy died in a homicide. She says he’s the reason she’s passionate about grammar and has such an advanced vocabulary.

“It’s very sad that the world lost such a nice guy,” said Ariel.

Another student of his, Becky Mohr, remembers when she got the news.

“Unbelievable, it’s just like I’m going to quote somebody who just said this yesterday, it’s like you want to wake up from a nightmare,” said Mohr.

Murphy inspired her so much that it was full circle: she became a teacher herself and then his co-worker at Brandon Valley Middle School.

“They were always ‘Mr. or Mrs.’ to me,” said Mohr. “I could never quite call them by their first name.”

Mohr says the retired teacher was calm and loved music.

“It made me giggle when he did that because that was so him,” said Mohr. “He would say something, smirk, and then walk away.”

Murphy was also known to travel with his students to Europe over the summer – giving them an educational experience beyond the classroom.

“He was a very good teacher,” said Mohr. “He believed in the students.”

It still hasn’t quite hit Mohr that she’ll never see her inspirational teacher turned co-worker again, after he died in such a violent way. However, she knows what she would say to him if she could see Mr. Murphy again:

“Thank you for being apart of so many students’ lives that you have influenced,” said Mohr.

Although he’s gone, the two of them are forever next to one another here in the Brandon Valley Middle School yearbook – Mr. Murphy captured with his signature smirk.

Police say the suspect later shot the gun on himself. Monday’s incident began with the suspect holding his wife hostage over the weekend. She escaped to a neighboring house where Murphy was visiting. Murphy leaves behind one son.

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