A self-published romance writer and author of the 2011 essay How To Murder Your Husband is now on trial accused of, erm, murdering her husband. Nancy Crampton-Brophy used the essay to detail various motives and methods for killing your spouse. Seven years later, the 71-year-old was arrested for apparently shooting her husband of 27 years, Daniel Brophy, to death.
- Crampton-Brophy really thought she was slick. Daniel’s body was found dead in the kitchen at Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland on June 2, 2018. He died of a gunshot wound to the chest and one to the back. The following day, Crampton-Brophy took to Facebook to announce the loss of her longtime partner. “I have sad news to relate. My husband and best friend, Chef Dan Brophy was killed yesterday morning,” she wrote. “For those of you who are close to me and feel this deserved a phone call, you are right, but I’m struggling to make sense of everything right now.”
- She was arrested a few months later. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office took Crampton-Brophy into custody in September 2018 on suspicion of murder, though she pleaded not guilty to all charges.
- The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed her trial. Restrictions and staffing shortages have meant her court has been pushed back several times. However, it finally got underway on Monday, April 4.
- It’s Crampton-Brophy’s essay that’s brought this case so much attention. Sadly, cases of spousal murder aren’t as rare as you’d think. However, having someone who actually wrote an article about committing the act does make this case special. “As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure,” Crampton-Brophy writes in the intro to How To Murder Your Husband. “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 color.”
- Crampton-Brophy claimed she was at home at the time of the murder. However, surveillance footage near the crime scene showed her driving her minivan in two directions during the hour of his death. As prosecutors wrote in a 2020 case filing: “Although that first shot likely paralyzed Dan Brophy and rendered him immobile, lying on his back, Nancy Brophy then walked over to the helpless victim and shot him again at close range, also piercing the heart and ensuring that Daniel Brophy would die.”
- Police believe she killed Brophy to collect his life insurance. According to prosecutors, Crampton-Brophy stood to collect $1.5 million in life insurance policies when her husband died. She discussed this as a possible murder motive in her essay seven years prior, writing: “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 draw back is the police aren’t silly. They are looking at you first. So you have to be organized, ruthless and very clever. Husbands have disappeared from cruise ships before. Why not yours?”