She wrote “How to Murder Your Husband”. Did she?

PORTLAND, Ore. — While pondering the best methods of marital murder, romance novelist Nancy Brophy wrote that her career as an author — complete with steamy tales of romance and betrayal — led her to think often about murders and how the police are investigating it.

A spouse who commits mariticide will almost certainly become a prime suspect, she said in a 2011 blog post titled “How to Murder Your Husband.” The woman, she says, must “be organized, ruthless and very intelligent”.

“After all, if murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend time in jail,” Ms Brophy wrote. “And let me just say for the record, I don’t like jumpsuits and orange is not my color.”

Seven years later, Mrs Brophy’s husband, Daniel, was brutally murdered, shot twice in the kitchen of a culinary institute in Portland, Oregon, where he was arriving for work on a sunny June morning. Now prosecutors are trying to mount a criminal case to follow to prove Ms Brophy, 71, killed her husband with the same type of brutal trickery she once assumed was necessary to escape conviction and reap the rewards – compilation component firearms to avoid leaving a trace, attacking in the absence of cameras or witnesses and moving to collect a series of life insurance policies in the days following her husband’s death.

Ms Brophy spoke in her own defense in Multnomah County Circuit Court this week, at times sobbing as she described the horror of losing her husband and laughing as she told stories of a happy quarterback relationship century with plans to retire soon and travel the world. Ms Brophy praised her husband as smart, funny, kind and humble, saying the two had never had a serious conflict or doubted their commitment to each other – a tragic love affair, without the treason.

“His weaknesses were my strengths. My strengths tended to be his weaknesses,” she told the jury. “Together it adapted immediately and never stopped.”

The Brophys had met in the early 1990s after Mrs Brophy, then Nancy Crampton, moved to Portland and attended a culinary school where Mr Brophy was her instructor.

The two eventually started dating and married, building a quiet life in suburban Portland, where Mr Brophy tended chickens and grew spices on a backyard plot and Mrs Brophy tried her hand at jobs ranging from selling life insurance to writing novels.

Ms. Brophy never had much financial success in her writing, mostly pursuing self-published novels with covers featuring shirtless men and titles such as “The Wrong Husband” and “The Wrong Cop”. She spent her mornings writing in bed, her husband often bringing her coffee from Starbucks.

“My stories are about pretty men and strong women, families that don’t always work out, and the joy of finding love and the difficulty of making it stay,” Ms. Brophy wrote in an author biography, where she congratulated her. husband and the life they had built together.

The couple had no children together, but defense attorneys called relatives and friends who praised the Brophys’ marriage. Ms Brophy’s niece, Susan Estrada, had come to live with the couple for a year a decade ago, learning to sell insurance alongside Ms Brophy. She said the couple had a collaborative relationship, with Ms Brophy quitting writing to help her husband around the house and him cooking meals and making lunches when she was on the road selling insurance.

“It was a kind of relationship that made me personally think maybe marriage wasn’t a bad idea,” Ms Estrada said.

On the morning of June 2, 2018, students arriving at the Oregon Culinary Institute discovered Mr. Brophy’s body on the floor of a scullery, where he lay in a sink filling buckets with water and ice. shortly after arriving and unlocking the building. .

Later that morning, after learning that there was police activity at the institute, Ms Brophy arrived on the scene. Detectives shared the news that her husband had been killed.

Ms Brophy told them her husband got up around 4am to feed the chickens and walk the dogs, and woke up when he went upstairs to take a shower. They discussed a leak in the sink, Ms Brophy said, and she estimated he left for work a little after 7 a.m.

“At that time, what we considered to be Mrs. Crampton Brophy was a grieving wife who had just learned that her husband had been brutally murdered by a handgun,” said Detective Anthony Merrill of the Police Department of Portland. “We were sad for her.”

Officers drove Ms. Brophy home, where she directed them to a gun in a closet; she said she bought the gun after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida left her in danger.

Other detectives scoured the scene of the shooting for CCTV. There were no cameras there, but a nearby pizzeria had footage showing a small snapshot of the street outside.

Investigators scoured the video, looking for anything notable earlier in the day. They quickly came across a shocking image, which led them to rewind the recording to take another look: early that morning, an old Toyota van that looked like Mrs. Brophy’s had been driven by the culinary institute.

This van, which detectives quickly found, appeared in other neighborhood videos. Prosecutors say it was clearly Ms Brophy driving the van; he arrived in the area at 6.39am, at a time when Ms. Brophy had said she was still in bed. At one point, footage showed the van was parked on a hill overlooking the culinary institute. Other cameras showed the van next to the culinary institute around 7.08am and then again around 20 minutes later, the time window in which investigators believe Mr Brophy was killed.

Ms Brophy testified this week that she did not remember being there early in the morning or much of what happened later as she faced the shock of learning that her husband was dead. She testified that she may have been making a usual run to Starbucks while jotting down her latest story on a notepad when her van appeared in surveillance footage, but she couldn’t be sure. .

Investigators found more: In their conversation about the gun in her closet, Ms Brophy did not reveal that she had also purchased a ‘ghost gun’ kit – a collection of parts to make a gun not registered. And on eBay, they learned, she had purchased a slide and barrel assembly that could be used to modify the weapon she had given to investigators. This assembly has never been found.

Prosecutors argue that Ms Brophy could have attached the slide and barrel to her gun to commit the murder before switching it so investigators could not link the unique markings on the bullets to the gun in her possession.

Mrs Brophy testified that she had purchased the ghost gun kit and slide and barrel assembly for research into a new book: the story of a woman in an abusive relationship who turned her life around. her lover by gradually acquiring gun parts each month to slowly build a complete weapon. Bank statements show payments for the parts came from the couple’s joint account, and Ms Brophy said her husband was well aware of the purchases, opening the weapons kit with her after it arrived in the post.

But in a dramatic scene during Tuesday’s testimony, Ms Brophy admitted that she had at one point removed the slide and barrel from the gun she bought after Parkland, a gun she testified was intended for protection, not research. An assistant district attorney, Shawn Overstreet, jumped up, bringing the gun to the witness box. Why, he asked, would she need to buy another blade and barrel for research when she already had one at home to examine?

Ms Brophy said she was fascinated by gun parts and how her book character could acquire them. “It was to write,” she says. “It was not, as you would expect, murdering my husband.”

The defense says the surveillance footage provides clues to other potential suspects. Videos show homeless people walking through the neighborhood, defense attorneys noted, including footage of a man who hid behind a wall and looked into a bag when officers arrived the morning of the murder. Investigators said they were unable to identify the man. They noted that Mr Brophy’s wallet, mobile phone and car keys were untouched.

Prosecutors argue Ms Brophy had a financial incentive to kill her husband. The couple had gone through a period of financial instability, taking a loan from Mr. Brophy’s 401(k) account, but they were spending hundreds of dollars each month on life insurance premiums. Lawyers for Ms Brophy countered that she bought policies because of her job as an insurance agent and was not the beneficiary of them all. Following her husband’s death, prosecutors said, Ms Brophy decided to collect policies worth $1.4million.

Four days after the murder, Ms Brophy spoke to one of the investigators, asking if he would provide a letter saying she was not a suspect, according to audio of the conversation. The detective, who looked surprised, asked why, and Ms Brophy revealed that her insurance company had her provide verification for a $40,000 life insurance claim.

“They don’t want to pay if it turns out that I secretly went down to school and shot my husband because I thought, ‘Hey, going into old age without Dan after 25, that’s is really what I’m looking for,” Ms. Brophy said in the recording.

She was charged with his murder three months later.

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