Bruce Rogal kept a handgun in his bedroom. The thought of that gun terrified Catherine Christian, his wife of 24 years and the woman who often found herself on the receiving end of Rogal's violent rage.
Rogal choked Christian, slammed her into walls and a kitchen counter, knocked her to the floor, punched her in the back of her head, spit in her face, jabbed her in the stomach, and "threatened to take the baseball bat and beat the s– out of" her, according to court documents and a transcript of a hearing in which a judge granted Christian a protection-from-abuse order.
"Without the PFA order, the guns are his to do with what he pleases. And I feel very threatened by that," Christian said at the June 2015 hearing in Chester County Court. At the time, she was seeking a divorce. "And with the divorce pending," she told the judge, "I'm afraid that once the contentions related to that are a factor, on top of his usually angry and violent nature … I believe I'll be hurt at some point because of that."
That statement would prove prescient.
On Wednesday, the day after their divorce was finalized, Rogal pulled up to the West Bradford home he once shared with Christian and began shooting at her as she changed the oil in her car in the driveway. He fired six shots as she ran down the street, eventually seeking shelter in a neighbor's home.
From there, Rogal drove 10 miles to the Bellingham retirement community in East Goshen, where he shot and killed his parents, William, 89, and Nancy, 87. Both were shot in the face, the coroner said Friday.
Rogal fled, setting in motion a multi-state manhunt that would end hours later with a police chase and an exchange of gunfire. Around 1 a.m. Thursday, authorities say, Rogal's vehicle crashed into Christian's home. Officers found him dead in the driver's seat of his silver Honda Odyssey. It remained unclear Friday whether Rogal shot himself or was shot by police.
From June 2015 to June 2017, the protection-from-abuse order barred Rogal from contacting Christian or having access to guns, and for years, the abuse appeared to be over. Even after the order lapsed, Christian's attorney, Steven H. Rubin, said, there were no incidents of domestic violence until this week.
After moving out of the Vermont Lane home he shared with Christian, Rogal rented an apartment in the James Mobile Home Park in Glenmoore.
When the Rogals were still married and living together, neighbor Dana Hathaway remembered Rogal and Christian as a quiet couple, with Rogal often "puttering about" the driveway.
Court documents, however, paint a darker picture of Rogal behind closed doors.
"He was clearly an angry person," said Rubin. "Not a normal person."
Rogal's abuse spanned at least six years, during which time Christian kept a datebook to document the attacks, court records show.
During one argument in 2009, Christian said Rogal "grabbed her by the throat in the basement during an argument about paying for our son's college." Christian said she did not sustain any injuries, but the outburst frightened her.
"I mean, I didn't have any bruising on my neck or anything," she said, according to court documents. "It was just that kind of thing where I was alone in the basement of my home and nobody would know if something happened."
Rogal once knocked Christian to the ground during an argument, prompting the couple's teenage son to call 911. Another outburst in 2011 began with an argument over $300 and resulted in a cracked rib, Christian told the judge.
"He slammed me against the wall," she said. "My son tried to intervene, and I told him not to get involved."
In May 2015, Christian reached her breaking point after what she described as a "complete explosion of fury."
Rogal, who had been seeing another woman, came home from a night out with his girlfriend and violently shoved a pan Christian was using to make oatmeal out of her hand, she said. The pan hit her face, cutting her lip and cheek, she told the judge. Rogal then shoved her against the dishwasher, she said. After Christian hit him in trying to free herself, he struck her in the back of her head with his fist, she said. She called 911, obtained a temporary protection-from-abuse order, and filed for divorce.
Rogal said at the hearing that he first brought up the topic of divorce and wanted to sell the couple's home. He disputed Christian's accounts of abuse, saying she had been the aggressor in some instances and that in others he did not recall the attacks. He accused her of fabricating the injuries she had sustained in May 2015.
Rogal told a Chester County sheriff that he was self-employed, according to the documents, but it was unclear how he spent his days during the final years of his marriage. He drank about four beers a day, Rogal told the sheriff, and owned two handguns. He said he transferred them to another party before the protection-from-abuse order went into effect.
Rogal would sometimes do contract work for his parents and their neighbors at Hershey's Mill, the West Chester senior community they lived in before moving to Bellingham a few years ago, said Barbara Mangos, who lived next door to the parents.
Mangos said she could not fathom how Rogal could have killed his parents, whom she called "just really nice people."
When Mangos moved to the community about 11 years ago, she said, Nancy Rogal brought over a plate of Christmas cookies. The couple loved to welcome guests into their home and gather around their wood-burning fireplace. William Rogal charmed with his dry sense of humor, Mangos said. Nancy Rogal was "a fighter" who survived cancer, keeping her friendly spirit even as she underwent heavy doses of chemotherapy, Mangos said.
As for their son, "he was odd, for sure," she said, adding. "I never thought of him as a threat."
Christian, who could not be reached for comment, said in court that her husband's abuse was not only physical, but also psychological. Sometimes, she said, he would damage property in an attempt to intimidate her.
In the weeks after filing a temporary protection-from-abuse order in May 2015, Christian had noticed something amiss about their wedding photo, the one displayed in the dining room of their home, she said. The photo was torn, showing only half an image: Christian, alone, at the August 1990 celebration.