Nancy Brophy testifies during her murder trial (Screen grab via KGW News live stream)
Guns are “too loud and loud” to murder your husband, according to Oregon-based novelist Nancy Brophy. But ultimately she used a ghost gun to shoot her husband twice in the chest, prosecutors say.
“It was to write. It was not for murdering my husband,” Brophy, 71, said of the gun. Ghost guns, while untraceable in many ways, tend to make as much noise as a regular firearm.
Prosecutors allege Brophy shot her husband twice in the chest with a homemade Glock and had a massive, well-thought-out plan to make sure she wasn’t the suspect. His trial began this week, after being postponed by the pandemic, and the details leaked during testimony are incredibly far-fetched.
Perhaps the most significant element that adds to the surrealism of the case is a blog Brophy wrote in 2011 titled simply “How to Murder Your Husband” – although a judge threw it out as evidence due to the distance between writing and murder. The message begins with “as a writer of romantic suspense, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, therefore, about police procedure”. Brophy goes on to list several motives like falling in love with someone else, getting revenge on a cheating spouse, financial reasons (more on that later) and dealing with an abuser.
Brophy also categorizes ways to kick your husband out. Among them are: guns, which she says are “too loud and noisy”; knives, which are too bloody; a tourniquet, which puts too much strain on upper body strength; and poison, which she seems to approve of. The main suspect, Brophy brooding, will almost certainly be the spouse, especially if they raise a large sum of money.
“What I do know about murder is that each of us has it in us when pushed far enough,” she wrote.
“I’m calling Dan to make sure he’s okay,” one of his readers commented on the blog in response.
Daniel Brophy was killed in June 2018 in a kitchen at the culinary institution where he worked. He was 63 years old. The couple had been together since the early 1990s and married for over 25 years. After her death, Nancy Brophy immediately began collecting a massive sum from several life insurance policies, a total of over $1.4 million. Although the couple were in the midst of financial difficulties, they continued to pay more than $1,000 for life insurance each month.
Nancy Brophy was charged with second degree murder three months later and faces life in prison.
Police testified at trial that when they first told Nancy Brophy about her murdered husband, they only saw her as a “grieving spouse” and “felt sad for her”. They took her home and continued their investigation, but quickly found something that made them question everything.
There were no cameras at Daniel Brophy’s workplace, so the police decided to check out a local pizzeria. They saw that early in the morning the day Daniel Brophy was murdered, you guessed it, Nancy Brophy was driving her van. The thing is, she told the cops she was still in bed at the time. Nancy Brophy claims to have a “memory lapse” about it, as she doesn’t remember it, but said she was probably heading to a nearby Starbucks to work on one of her novels. A psychologist who testified on behalf of the defense said trauma can affect memory.
To make matters worse for the novelist, Nancy Brophy had purchased a ghost gun kit that put together various gun parts to create an unregistered firearm. Police say she turned in her glock from the ghost gun kit, but it did not match the cartridge case found at the scene. However, they have records of her also purchasing a slide and barrel online, but have been unable to locate it. A new slide and a new barrel would make the casings different.
Nancy Brophy said she bought the parts to make an untraceable weapon for research on an upcoming book about a woman in an abusive relationship who slowly builds a weapon to kill her partner. Nancy Brophy’s internet history shows she researched “how to load a glock” on March 26, just days before her husband was killed.
On top of all this, four days before her husband’s murder, Nancy Brophy went to an officer and asked him to provide her with a letter saying she was not the suspect. She needed it to collect one of the insurance premiums because, as she heard in a tape played in court, “They don’t want to pay if it turns out that I secretly went down to the school and shot my husband”.
In her blog post about the murder of a husband, the novelist acknowledged that “the police are not stupid” and that partners who receive large insurance payouts are usually the prime suspect in mariticide. So if you want to be successful, you have to be “organized, ruthless and very smart”. Yet, she writes, “It’s easier to wish people dead than to kill them”, because then she doesn’t have to worry about “blood and brains splattering on my walls”.
“And really, I’m not good at remembering lies.”
Nancy Brophy’s case took another turn for the worse when her cellmate spoke out on Thursday and said that during their conversations in the compound, the novelist ‘slipped’ and said ‘I’ while explaining how her husband had been killed.
During her cross-examination, Nancy Brophy praised her husband and wept when discussing his death. Relatives have also testified to the strength of the relationship between the two. One of her nieces even said they made her think that “marriage might not be a bad idea”.
Daniel Brophy was an incredibly experienced chef in the Portland culinary scene and brought decades of professional restaurant experience with him. He was a senior chef instructor at the Oregon Culinary Institute. Friends and family told Portland Monthly in 2019 that they would not speak to the media out of respect for him because he was a deeply private person.
The trail is coming to an end and should be finished early next week.
Before dabbling in the law, Nancy Brophy had a little-known career as a romance novelist – writing about, as she puts it, “about beautiful men and strong women.” Among his novels are the “Wrong Never Felt So Right” series which includes such titles as “The Wrong Husband”, “The Wrong Brother” and “The Wrong Seal” (a Navy Seal, not the semi-aquatic sea animal or the “Kiss of a Rose” Seal.)
“Marshall and Lily are too old, too busy and far too smart to fall in love. Oceanographer Marshall sees women as a wonderful recreational pastime. Lily, the successful caterer, is looking for a fantastic man for a hot and passionate night “, reads the summary of The Wrong Lover, yet another in the Wrong collection. “It was the perfect arrangement. What could go wrong?”
Several books written by Nancy Brophy, including six “Wrong” books are still available on Amazon. They received mixed reviews.
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