Romance novelist who wrote ‘The Wrong Husband’ is on trial in her husband’s killing

But for Crampton-Brophy, life with her husband of nearly two decades seemed anything but bad. She and Daniel Brophy lived in a quiet suburb of Portland, Oregon, where he was a chef at culinary school. Crampton-Brophy said her husband raised turkeys and chickens in her backyard, tended a vegetable garden and liked to prepare fancy meals for her.

“Can you imagine spending the rest of your life without such a man?” she asked.

Then came a plot twist that could have been ripped from one of his books.

On the morning of June 2, 2018, someone shot 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 once published an infamous blog post titled “How to Murder Your Husband” is on trial in an Oregon court. Crampton-Brophy, 71, is charged with a single 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 came to class to find him bleeding on the kitchen floor.

In court documents, prosecutors said the 63-year-old man had been shot twice, once in the back while standing at a sink filling ice buckets and water for students, and then a second time 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 was no sign of theft or forced entry.

The next day, Crampton-Brophy posted a message on Facebook.

“My husband and best friend, chef Dan Brophy, was murdered yesterday morning,” she said. “For those of you who are close to me and feel this was worth a phone call, you are right, but I am struggling to understand everything 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 came crashing down.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that the Brophys were facing financial difficulties and had emptied their retirement account two years before the shooting. Crampton-Brophy, whose books were not financially lucrative, hatched the plan to kill her husband to collect more than $1.5 million from multiple life insurance policies and other assets, prosecutors said.

“Dan Brophy was content with his simplistic lifestyle, but Nancy Brophy wanted something more,” prosecutors said in court documents. “As Nancy Brophy became more financially desperate and her writing career faltered, she was left with few options…

“Dan Brophy was worth nearly $1.5 million to Nancy Brophy if he died and was worth a lifetime of financial hardship if he lived. Nancy Brophy planned and carried out what she believed was the perfect murder. A murder that she believed would set her 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 an article marked “10 Ways to Cover Up a Murder.”

But Crampton-Brophy’s attorney 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 has always been deeply, madly, madly in love with Daniel Brophy, and still is to this day. To Nancy Brophy, he was perfect.”

The couple had had several romantic getaways in the months before Brophy’s death and were planning a summer trip to Mount Rushmore, the defense attorney said.

The murder brought new attention to Crampton-Brophy’s writing.

News of the murder shocked the Portland community and made headlines everywhere, in part due to something Crampton-Brophy wrote seven years before her husband’s death.

In 2011, he published a blog post titled “How to Murder Your Husband.”

“As a romantic thriller writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about the murder and consequently the police procedure,” the 700-word post began. He posted on a blog called “See Jane Publish” which has since been made private. The essay was divided into sections detailing the pros and cons of killing a villainous 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 state plainly for the record, I don’t like monkeys and orange is not my color.”

But the trial judge ruled Monday that the essay would not be allowed in evidence because it was written years ago as part of a writing seminar and could unfairly prejudice a jury.
Nancy Crampton-Brophy's book,

Crampton-Brophy’s novels do not seem to have brought him riches or literary recognition. But they were consistent in their presentation and theme.

His books were stories of attempted murder, infidelity, crime, lust, and general debauchery, all common themes in romantic thrillers. In “The Wrong Husband”, a woman tries to escape her abusive husband by hiding in Spain during her anniversary trip.

“My stories are about beautiful men and strong women, about families that don’t always work out, and about the joy of finding love and the difficulty of keeping it,” she wrote on her website. “In writing fiction, you dig deep and unearth parts of your own life that you’ve long forgotten or buried deep on purpose. Of course, sometimes it’s smarter to change the ending.”

Her author biography also offered glimpses of how Crampton-Brophy viewed life with her husband.

“Like all marriages, we’ve had our ups and downs, more good times than bad,” she wrote.

Prosecutors say she investigated ‘ghost weapons’

Brophy’s body was found by his culinary 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 minivan on city streets near the school at the time of the shooting, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they believe Crampton-Brophy followed her husband to work and shot him with a Glock 9mm pistol she had purchased at a Portland gun show. Investigators found two 9mm shell casings at the scene.

He had also purchased a “ghost gun” assembly kit that investigators later found in a storage facility. “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 bought the gun with her husband’s knowledge because mass shootings in the United States made her feel insecure.

Nancy Crampton-Brophy, left, at her trial in Portland, Oregon.  She has remained in custody since her arrest in September 2018.

Prosecutors allege that to cover her tracks, Crampton-Brophy swapped out the slide and barrel of the Glock 9mm with an identical mechanism she bought on eBay and used to shoot her husband. She then allegedly removed the new slide and barrel and replaced it with the original, “thereby being able to present a new, fully intact firearm to police that would not match the casings,” prosecutors said in court documents.

Detectives have not recovered the slide and barrel purchased on eBay, meaning forensic experts have not been able to match the spent bullets to the gun, prosecutors said.

She was the sole beneficiary on several life insurance policies.

Investigators found that Crampton-Brophy was the beneficiary of “numerous” life insurance policies taken out by her husband, prosecutors said in court documents.

Despite the couple’s financial problems, Crampton-Brophy spent more than $1,000 a month on life insurance premiums, prosecutors said.

Three days after her husband’s death, she called the lead detective on the case and asked for a letter declaring she was not a suspect so she could give it to insurance companies, prosecutors said. Detectives declined to provide the letter.

Explaining why she had purchased her husband’s life insurance policies, the defense argued that Crampton-Brophy was a salesperson for multiple insurance companies and had purchased the policies to demonstrate her confidence in the product and earn a commission.

Her husband was also younger than her and eligible for some life insurance policies that she didn’t qualify for, Maxfield said.

Maxfield told the jury that the Brophys were in good shape financially in June 2018 and that prosecutors’ characterization that they were in dire financial straits is overblown. Crampton-Brophy did not collect an insurance windfall after the murder, Maxfield said.

“Nancy Brophy and Dan Brophy had an unusually healthy and vibrant marriage, right to the end,” he told the jury. “After you’ve heard all the evidence in this case, we’re sure you’ll understand that Nancy Brophy did not kill her husband.”

Crampton-Brophy is expected to take the stand during the trial.

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