Did she murder her husband as she previously described in one of her novels? In the US, Nancy Brophy is on trial for murder. “How to Murder Your Husband” was one of her novel titles. But the case is far from clear.
The American novelist of How to Kill Your Husband is currently on trial. Nancy Brophy allegedly killed her husband according to the instructions in her book, according to prosecutors in Portland, Oregon. Recordings from surveillance cameras burden the writer. In addition, before her husband’s murder, she had bought a gun on Ebay. After his death, she collected $1.4 million from his life insurance. The widow denies the allegations. Acquaintances of the couple raved about their good marriage on the witness stand.
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“It’s easy to make yourself the prime suspect when it comes to murdering a spouse,” the author wrote in 2011’s How to Murder Your Husband. Therefore, a wife not only has to be ruthless, but also well organized – and above all, be skilful. Rule number one in murder: reduce the risk of possible witnesses to an absolute minimum. “After all, if the murder is meant to give me more freedom, then I don’t want to spend my time behind bars.”
In fact, there are no eyewitnesses to the murder — but street cameras show Nancy Brophy’s old minivan near the Oregon Culinary Institute on the morning of June 2, 2018, at exactly the same time her husband Daniel was shot dead in a culinary school kitchen. Apprentices found the body of the 63-year-old on the floor in front of a sink. The fatal shots came from a Glock 9mm pistol. His wife had previously bought just such a weapon on the eBay auction portal.
Brophy complained in court last week about memory lapses. The 71-year-old initially claimed to have been asleep at 6:40 a.m. on the day of the murder. She later admitted: Yes, her car could be seen in the video recordings between 6:39 a.m. and 7:28 a.m. According to investigators, her husband was shot dead during this time window. But she no longer has clear memories of the day four years ago. Maybe she was near the cooking school to get a coffee at Starbucks as usual. However, she cannot say that with complete certainty.
Brophy remembered her happy 25-year marriage all the better: “My husband was intelligent, humorous, warm-hearted and humble,” she told the jury. In tears, she protested to the judge: “We never had a serious argument. We never questioned our relationship.”
Friends and relatives on the witness stand also confirmed that the childless couple maintained a loving tone, full of consideration and respect. He often brought her coffee in bed when she was writing novels – and she helped him with the housework.
Ten years ago, Nancy Brophy’s niece moved in with the couple for 12 months. Susan Estrada wanted to be an insurance salesman like her aunt—and learn from Brophy. She also described the couple’s marriage as exemplary. “It was the kind of relationship that made me think maybe marriage wasn’t a bad idea after all,” Estrada said in court. The spouses supported each other. For example, Brophy would often interrupt her novel writing to help her husband around the house — or make him packed lunches when she was away on her insurance job.
The couple met and fell in love at a cooking school in the 1990s – Daniel was Nancy’s teacher at the time. After the wedding, they moved to a suburb of Portland. Outside of his work at the Culinary Institute, Daniel raised chickens and gardened herbs while Nancy worked for an insurance company and wrote romance novels under titles such as The Wrong Husband.
“My stories are about attractive men and strong women,” she wrote in her author’s resume. However, the financial success of their works did not materialize. She rarely found publishers for her dime novels – mostly she had to pay for the costs of her self-publishing herself.
Under cross-examination, Brophy used purely literary motives to justify the purchase of her firearm. She simply wanted to research how a character in a novel could get hold of weapons: “It was about writing for me – not about killing my husband.”
According to prosecutors, she killed him to get $1.4 million from his life insurance. The couple found themselves in financial difficulties.
Shortly after the murder, Brophy called one of the investigators and asked for written confirmation that she herself was not a suspect. In the audio recording, she says: “They don’t want to pay me off if it turns out that I drove to school secretly and shot my husband.” Three months later, she was charged with murder.