Chilling Tales: Murder at Callanwolde

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Murder for hire at Callanwolde.

By Rebecca Selem, Exhibits and Communication Coordinator

The following story includes mentions of murder and suicide.

It was a day like any other. George Broomall arrived at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center on the morning of October 9, 1987 for a seemingly normal day of work. However, shortly after disabling the alarm system, as he did every morning around 6:00 am, he was brutally murdered and found hours later in a second-floor hallway by an unsuspecting bystander.

Broomall worked as a facility engineer for DeKalb County and was assigned to Callanwolde months prior to his untimely demise – he had previously worked in the county’s main administration building. Clues at the scene led investigators to believe that Broomall had been slain after surprising a burglary in progress. Cases of liquor, stereo equipment, and some of Broomall’s personal items were missing from the scene.

This theory, however, proved to be a distraction from the real crime. The murder weapon – a knife purchased from a flea market – led investigators to the true motive and the killers.

DHC Blog: Chilling Broomall

From The Atlanta Constitution, October 10, 1987 via

So, what happened?

Nora Ventura Broomall, wife of George Broomall, decided one day that she needed money more than she needed her husband. She enlisted the help of Cecil Eugene Booher, a past roommate of the couple, to kill her husband and make it look like an accident in order to cash in on his life insurance. Booher was promised $25,000 if he was successful in his mission.

The two created a plan – kill Broomall, steal some stuff, and make it look like a random, accidental killing. When they were finally apprehended for the crime, Booher spun a story about how George Broomall asked Booher to assist in his suicide so that Broomall’s wife could get the insurance money. Nora went along with this new scheme and said she had no idea her husband was planning to end his life. This story proved fictitious.

In the end, Nora Ventura Broomall and Cecil Eugene Booher were convicted of the contract killing of George Broomall.

It was later discovered that Booher was terminally ill and considered himself a dead man walking. Perhaps this is why he agreed to help Mrs. Broomall. He died in 1990, at the start of what was to be a very long sentence. Nora Broomall died in 2007 while serving out her life sentence.

DHC Blog: Chilling Broomall

Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, date unknown.

DHC Blog: Mysterious Life Lois Fears

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