Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Shotgun Slaying of Bruce and Darlene Rouse

The Rouse Family

Bruce and Darlene Rouse married shortly after Darlene graduated from high school. She had her first child, Kurt, when she was 18. Two other children followed — Billy and daughter Robin.

Bruce Rouse
Bruce Rouse

At age 21, Bruce became owner of a gas station and began working incessantly to buy more. Eventually, he would have an entire chain along with partial ownership of a cable television station and various land holdings. In 1975, the family was able to move into a 13-room mansion near the Des Plaines River in Lake County, one of the wealthiest areas in Illinois.

Darlene Rouse
Darlene Rouse

Building a fortune usually entails sacrifice, and Bruce Rouse paid dearly for his. He often worked more than 14 hours a day, leaving the parenting issues to his wife. Raising the children proved a difficult job: sons Kurt and Billy both became drug users and drank constantly. Only Robin seemed well adjusted. Both boys quarreled with their parents, didn't respect authority and had problems in school. Kurt was ultimately banished to the outside guest quarters did not have a key to the main house. He refused his parents' suggestion of joining the Army and instead lingered on where he wasn't wanted.

William Rouse, younger
William Rouse, younger

Billy was born with psychological problems and frequently acted out in a rage. He fought constantly with Darlene over his drug and alcohol problem. According to the Chicago Tribune, Darlene would threaten to hit Billy with an object, and he would taunt her: "Go ahead, tell dad. He won't do anything about it."

Billy's behavioral problems were acted out at school as well: he once set off a fire alarm and then went on a vandalism spree. He was finally expelled and landed in a continuation school. Despite all this, the teen-ager got along well his father. The pair would sometimes work together at the gas stations or go hunting.

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