Originally posted: 07 APR 22 08:10 ET
By Faith Karimi, CNN
(CNN) — Nancy Crampton-Brophy has written steamy romance novels with muscular, often shirtless men on their covers and headlines like “The Wrong Husband.” Some wore a slogan that read, “evil never felt so good”.
But for Crampton-Brophy, life with her husband of nearly two decades seemed anything but wrong. She and Daniel Brophy lived in a quiet suburb of Portland, Oregon, where he was a chef at a culinary school. Crampton-Brophy said her husband raised turkeys and chickens in their backyard, tended a vegetable garden and enjoyed cooking sumptuous meals for her.
The day she realized he was Mr. Right, she wrote on her author’s website, he was cooking hors d’oeuvres for her while she took a bath.
“Can you imagine spending the rest of your life without a man like that? she asked.
Then came a twist that could have been ripped from any of his books.
On the morning of June 2, 2018, someone shot and killed Daniel Brophy in the kitchen of the Oregon Culinary Institute, where he taught cooking. Three months later, Portland police arrested Crampton-Brophy and charged her with the murder of her husband.
And now the woman who posted an infamous blog post titled “How to Murder Your Husband” is on trial in an Oregon courtroom. Crampton-Brophy, 71, is charged with one count of murder and has pleaded not guilty.
The trial is expected to last six weeks.
Her husband was shot twice at the cooking school where he worked
The morning Daniel Brophy was killed, students arrived in class to find him bleeding on the kitchen floor.
In court papers, prosecutors said the 63-year-old was shot twice – once in the back as he stood in front of a sink filling buckets with ice and water for students, then a second times in the chest at close range. The bullets penetrated his spine and pierced his heart. Brophy’s wallet with cash and credit cards was found with him, and there were no signs of theft or break-in.
The next day, Crampton-Brophy posted a message on Facebook.
“My husband and best friend, Chef Dan Brophy was killed yesterday morning,” he said. “For those of you close to me who feel this was worth a phone call, you’re right, but I’m having a hard time making sense of it all right now.”
The murder remained a public mystery for months. Then came Crampton-Brophy’s arrest in September 2018 – and suddenly the image of the couple’s happy marriage crumbled.
Prosecutors allege in court papers that the Brophys were struggling financially and drained their retirement account two years before the shooting. Crampton-Brophy, whose books were not financially lucrative, hatched the plan to kill her husband to raise more than $1.5 million from multiple life insurance policies and other assets, prosecutors said .
“Dan Brophy was happy with his simplistic lifestyle, but Nancy Brophy wanted something more,” prosecutors said in court documents. “As Nancy Brophy became increasingly financially desperate and her writing career floundered, she was left with few options…
“Dan Brophy was worth almost $1.5 million to Nancy Brophy if he died and he was worth a lifetime of financial hardship if he remained alive. Nancy Brophy planned and executed what she believed to be the perfect murder .A murder that she believes would free her from the clutches of financial despair.”
Prosecutors said a search of the couple’s computers revealed they had a joint iTunes account with a bookmarked article titled “10 Ways to Cover Up a Murder.”
But Crampton-Brophy’s lawyer argued at trial this week that she loved her husband and had nothing to do with the murder.
“The state will present a circumstantial case that begs you to turn a blind eye to the most important circumstance…love,” defense attorney Lisa Maxfield said in her opening statement Monday. “Nancy Crampton-Brophy was always deeply, madly, madly in love with Daniel Brophy, and still is to this day. To Nancy Brophy, he was perfect.”
The couple had been on several romantic getaways in the months leading up to Brophy’s death and were planning a summer trip to Mount Rushmore, the defense attorney said.
The murder brought new attention to the writings of Crampton-Brophy
News of the murder stunned the Portland community and made headlines everywhere — in part because of something Crampton-Brophy wrote seven years before her husband’s death.
In 2011, she published a blog post titled “How to Murder Your Husband”.
“As a romantic thriller writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, therefore, police procedurals,” the 700-word post began. It was posted on a blog called “See Jane Publish” which has since gone private. The essay was divided into sections detailing the pros and cons of killing a mean husband.
“If murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend time in jail,” Crampton-Brophy wrote. “And let me say clearly for the record, I don’t like jumpsuits and orange is not my color.”
But the trial judge ruled on Monday that the essay would not be allowed into evidence because it was written years ago as part of a writing seminar and could unfairly prejudice the jury.
Crampton-Brophy’s novels do not seem to have brought him literary wealth or fame. But they were consistent in packaging and subject matter.
His books were tales of attempted murder, infidelity, crime, lust, and general debauchery – all common themes for romantic thrillers. In “The Wrong Husband”, a woman tries to escape her abusive husband by hiding in Spain during their anniversary trip.
“My stories are about beautiful men and strong women, families that don’t always work out, and the joy of finding love and the difficulty of making it last,” she wrote on her website. “Writing fiction, you dig deep and uncover parts of your own life that you’ve long forgotten or deliberately buried deep. Granted, sometimes it’s smarter to change the ending.”
Her author biography also offered insight into how Crampton-Brophy viewed life with her husband.
“Like all marriages, we had ups and downs, more good times than bad,” she wrote.
Prosecutors say she researched ‘ghost weapons’
Brophy’s body was found by his cooking students. At the time of his death, he was alone at school, prosecutors said.
The school did not have security cameras, but nearby traffic cameras showed Crampton-Brophy’s Toyota van on city streets near the institute at the time of the shooting, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said they believe Crampton-Brophy followed her husband to work and shot him with a 9mm Glock handgun she bought at a gun show in Portland. Investigators found two 9mm casings at the scene.
She had also purchased a “ghost gun” assembly kit that investigators later found in a warehouse. “Ghost guns” are unregistered and untraceable firearms.
Crampton-Brophy’s attorney told jurors Monday that she was researching “ghost gun” kits for a book she was working on and that she bought the handgun with her husband’s knowledge because the mass shootings in the United States put her in danger.
Prosecutors allege that to cover her tracks, Crampton-Brophy swapped the slide and barrel of the 9mm Glock with an identical mechanism she bought on eBay and used it to shoot her husband. She then allegedly pulled out the new slide and barrel and replaced them with the original, “thus being able to present police with a new, fully intact firearm that would not match the cartridge cases,” prosecutors said in court papers. .
Detectives did not recover the slide and barrel purchased on eBay, meaning forensic experts were unable to match the spent bullets to the weapon, prosecutors said.
She was the sole beneficiary of several life insurance policies
Investigators found Crampton-Brophy was the beneficiary of “numerous” life insurance policies taken out on her husband, prosecutors said in court documents.
Despite the couple’s financial struggles, Crampton-Brophy was spending more than $1,000 a month on life insurance premiums, prosecutors said.
Three days after her husband died, she called the lead detective in the case and asked for a letter saying she was not a suspect so she could turn it over to insurance companies, prosecutors said. . Detectives refused to provide the letter.
In explaining why she purchased the life insurance policies on her husband, the defense argued that Crampton-Brophy was a salesperson for several insurance companies and purchased the policies to show her belief in the product and earn a commission .
Her husband was also younger than her and eligible for some life insurance policies she was not eligible for, Maxfield said.
Maxfield told jurors the Brophys were in decent financial shape in June 2018 and that prosecutors’ characterization that they were in dire financial straits was overblown. Crampton-Brophy did not collect an insurance windfall after the murder, Maxfield said.
“Nancy Brophy and Dan Brophy had an exceptionally healthy and vibrant marriage until the very end,” she told jurors. “After hearing all the evidence in this case, we are sure you will understand that Nancy Brophy did not kill her husband.”
Crampton-Brophy is expected to take the stand during the trial.
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