Writer of How To Murder Your Husband to spend life in prison for killing her spouse

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Author Nancy Crampton Brophy is likely to die behind bars. (PHOTO: Facebook/Nancy Brophy)
Author Nancy Crampton Brophy is likely to die behind bars. (PHOTO: Facebook/Nancy Brophy)

American romance writer Nancy Crampton Brophy (71) has learnt the hard way that it's not easy getting away with murder – especially if you've already written about how you'd commit the deed!

The writer has been sentenced to life in prison for killing her husband of 25 years, chef Daniel Brophy (63).

Her sentence comes after she was convicted on a charge of second-degree murder last month. 

Brophy's sentencing is the final chapter in a story that began on 2 June 2018, when students arrived at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, USA, where Daniel was teaching, to find him dead on the classroom floor.

In 2011, the romance writer penned an essay titled How To Murder Your Husband.

In it she wrote, “I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure. After all, if the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail. And let me say clearly for the record, I don’t like jumpsuits and orange isn’t my colour.”

author, crime, murder, chef
Nancy had written a 2011 essay about how to kill your husband. (PHOTO: SeeJanePublish)

The No 1 motive for murder, she wrote, is money, which proved to be true in her case too.

“Divorce is expensive, and do you really want to split your possessions? Or if you married for money, aren’t you entitled to all of it?

"The drawback is the police aren’t stupid. They're looking at you first. So you have to be organised, ruthless and clever. Husbands have disappeared from cruise ships before. Why not yours?”

Guns are “loud, messy and require some skill," she wrote. "If it takes 10 shots for the sucker to die, either you have terrible aim or he’s on drugs.

“I find it's easier to wish people dead than to actually kill them. I don’t want to worry about blood and brains splattered on my walls. And really, I’m not good at remembering lies. But the thing I know about murder is that every one of us has it in him or her when pushed far enough.”

author, crime, murder, chef
Nancy's husband, Dan Brophy, was a teacher at a cooking school. He was found shot dead in his classroom. (PHOTO: Facebook/Nancy Brophy)

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Judge Christopher Ramras ruled that prosecutors couldn't use the essay as evidence as it was too old to be relevant, and that any value it could provide the trial would be outweighed by the prejudice it could cause.

But police discovered Brophy had bought a gun and spare gun parts, and had wanted to collect Daniel's life-insurance policies, which were worth a combined $1,4 million (R21,7m).

Detectives also obtained CCTV footage of Brophy driving a minivan, circling the streets surrounding the culinary school minutes before and after the shooting. When questioned about it during the trial, Brophy claimed she couldn't remember driving there.

Prosecutor Shawn Overstreet said Brophy had killed Daniel at the school as he was preparing for work.

“The reality is the last time Nancy saw Dan was when she stood over him and then looked him in his eye as he’s breathing in his last bit of life, paralysed and injured,” Overstreet said.

“He wasn’t dead yet. So she looked into his eyes and pulled that trigger one last time. That’s the last time she saw him.”

Brophy’s lawyers argued that Daniel was killed by a homeless person who'd followed him into the institute.

But the jury consisting of seven women and five men found Brophy guilty.  

author, crime, murder, chef
Brophy has written several bodice-rippers. (PHOTO: Facebook/Nancy Brophy)

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The novelist showed no reaction to the sentence, which was welcomed by Dan's relatives. 

“Whatever time you spend in prison is nothing compared to an eternity in hell,” said Bill Brophy, the brother of Dan.

Other family members shared similar sentiments. Dan’s son, Nathaniel Stillwater, called his father’s killer cold-blooded and vowed that her youngest grandchildren will never know her name.

“My father possessed more knowledge, depth, accomplishments, recognition and joy in life than a person as shallow and self-serving as yourself is capable of,” said Nathaniel.

He continued, “You executed my father in an act of cold-blooded, premeditated murder. A man that did everything for you—cooked your meals, washed your clothes, accepted your sedentary nature, supported your failed endeavours, and brought you into the warm embrace of our family.”


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