Murder Trial for Romance Writer Who Invented “How to Murder Your Husband”


Romance author Nancy Crampton-Brophy, who once penned an essay titled “How to Murder Your Husband,”She was accused of doing exactly that in her own personal life.

The 71-year-old’s murder trial is scheduled to start Monday with opening statements in a Multnomah County courtroom in Oregon. She has pleaded guilty.

Chef Daniel Brophy was the subject of crime novels. As he was filling water and ice cups at the sink in Oregon Culinary, he was shot to death. The June 2018 killing generated headlines far beyond Portland. Nancy Brophy was the wife of Brophy, a beloved and well-loved cook and instructor. He was 63 years old when he was killed in close quarters.

Three months after his death, his wife was taken into custody. Prosecutors say Crampton-Brophy’s lawyers used the COVID-19 pandemic to delay her trial and buy time to get her released, including filing a motion to allow her to await trial in a guest house to avoid catching the virus and another asking the judge to delay her trial because older jurors, who would be more sympathetic to the defendant, would likely avoid jury duty because they feared catching the coronavirus.

Crampton-Brophy, however, has been behind bars since September 2018. She is charged with one count of murder with a firearm constituting domestic violence.

The murder was still a mystery until authorities began to investigate Crampton-Brophy’s private life.

Portland police reported that they found several policies that named Crampton-Brophy as the beneficiary in case her husband died. Police said that the payout was increased to hundreds of thousands of dollars if he died on the job.

On her computer, detectives allegedly found a ghost gun slide and barrel purchased on eBay that would match the 9mm handgun she told police she and her husband jointly bought at a Portland gun show, authorities said.

“Detectives then suspected that Nancy Brophy removed the original slide and barrel from the gun show gun that she relinquished to the police, replaced it with the eBay- purchased slide and barrel, shot her husband, and then replaced the eBay slide and barrel with the original, thus being able to present a new, fully- intact firearm to police that would not be a match to the shell casings that she left at the crime scene,”In court documents, the prosecution said. 

Prosecutors said that the couple was in serious debt and had fallen $6,000 behind on their mortgage payments.

Crampton and Brophy wrote further.

“Writers are liars,” she wrote in an introductory post to Her website. “I don’t remember who said that but it’s not true. In writing fiction, you dig deep and unearth portions of your own life that you’ve long forgotten or had purposely buried deep.”

A 2011 essay “How to Murder Your Husband,” she wrote, “As a romantic suspense writer, 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.”

Under a section titled “Motives,” the author wrote, “This is big. 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 (sic) is the police aren’t stupid. 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?”

In 2019, her stepson, Nathaniel Stillwater, filed a $1.7 million wrongful death suit against her over the killing of his father.

“Nancy Brophy planned and carried out what she believed was the perfect murder. A murder that she believed would free her from the grips of financial despair and enter a life of financial security and adventure,” Rod Underhill, the district attorney for Multnomah County, wrote in 2020 court documents.


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