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Romance writer accused of killing husband penned essay ‘How to Murder Your Husband’

A self-published Oregon romance novelist accused of gunning down her husband at the culinary school where he taught once offered other authors a list of ways to kill a husband and not get caught. 

Nancy Crampton Brophy wrote the essay, “How to Kill Your Husband,” in 2011, according to the Oregonian. Brophy, 68, of Beaverton, now finds herself jailed in the Multnomah County Detention Center, accused of using her self-proclaimed knowledge to kill her husband of 26 years. 

Daniel C. Brophy, 63, was found shot June 2 in a kitchen at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, police officials said. Students and staff arriving for class found him and called 911

The beloved chef instructor died at the scene. Nancy Brophy is charged with murder and unlawful use of a weapon. 

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Detectives and prosecutors have not said what they believe is the motive in Dan Brophy’s slaying. Nancy Brophy’s seven-year-old essay gave her followers a number of possibilities.

The essay, published on the website See Jane Publish, listed infidelity, domestic abuse and greed as some of the potential motives for a spouse’s murder, the newspaper reported. Though the essay is no longer public and the administrator of See Jane Publish has made the website private, an archived copy of the essay is available online. 

“As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure,” Brophy wrote. “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.”

Nancy Crampton Brophy (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

>> Related story: Romance author charged with killing chef husband

In the tongue-in-cheek explanations of the potential motives, Brophy described the financial motive as a big one. 

“Divorce is expensive, and do you really want to split your possessions?” she wrote. “Or if you married for money, aren’t you entitled to all of it? The drawback 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?”

Under infidelity, she wrote, “Let’s say your Church frowns on divorce. You need to be a widow so you won’t fall out of favor with your religion. 

“At this point, I should mention that it helps if you aren’t too burdened by the 10 Commandments.”

Brophy, whose novels include one titled “The Wrong Husband,” also listed a number of methods by which to kill, including guns, knives, poison or hiring a hitman. Under poison, she listed a drawback as the amount of time it takes the husband to die.

“Who wants to hang out with a sick husband?” she wrote

She described using a knife as “really up close and personal.” Guns, she wrote are loud, messy and require some skill.

“If it takes 10 shots for the sucker to die, either you have terrible aim or he’s on drugs,” she wrote

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In the essay, Brophy also wrote that she found it “easier to wish people dead than to actually kill them.”

“I don’t want to worry about blood and brains splattered on my walls,” she wrote. “And really, I’m not good at remembering lies. But the thing I know about murder is that every one of us have it in him/her when pushed far enough.”

A commenter on the Nov. 4, 2011, essay joked, “I’m calling Dan to make sure he’s alright.”

Dan Brophy’s slaying, which stunned and devastated his students, colleagues and friends, initially puzzled detectives. As the investigation pressed on, Nancy Brophy admitted that she was considered a suspect and displayed what at least one neighbor considered an odd reaction to the death of the man she called her “best friend” in a Facebook post announcing his death

“She never showed any signs of being upset or sad,” Don McConnell, a neighbor for six years, told the Oregonian after the arrest last week. “I would say she had an air of relief, like it was almost a godsend.”

McConnell also spoke to KOIN, who he told that he “got the nerve” to broach the subject of the investigation with the widow over the summer. He said he asked if investigators were keeping in touch with her. 

“She said, ‘No, I’m out of the loop,’ and I said, ‘What do you mean?’” McConnell said. “And she said, ‘They consider me a suspect.’”

Friends and family expressed disbelief that Nancy Brophy could be responsible for her husband’s death. 

“I’ve known her for 30 years,” friend Tania Medlin told KGW8 in Portland. “I can’t imagine. I just don’t think she’s capable.”

Heather Kinnett, who identified herself as Nancy Brophy’s niece, wrote on a Facebook page established in Dan Brophy’s memory that her aunt could not have committed the crime. 

“I am terribly saddened and angered by her arrest and false accusation of having murdered Dan for many reasons, not the least of which being the thought that they have stopped looking for the person or persons who did murder Dan,” Kinnett wrote. “Nancy did not commit this horrendous crime. Dan was the love of her life. They had a happy marriage, with a lot of laughter, a lot of great food and a lot of ‘Brophy-isms,’ and there is nothing Nancy would value more than their life together that would cause her to have taken his life and left her own with this giant gaping hole.”

Dan Brophy’s mother, Karen Brophy, told the Oregonian following her daughter-in-law’s arrest that his family was stunned. 

“The family is in absolute shock right now and we are not making any comments,” Karen Brophy said. 

On her website, Nancy Brophy said her husband’s mantra was, “Life is a science project.” She credited him with the chickens and turkeys in their backyard, a vegetable garden and a hot meal every night.

“I can’t tell you when I fell in love with my husband, but I relate the moment I decided to marry him,” Brophy wrote. “I was in the bath. It was a big tub. I expected him to join me and when he was delayed, I called out, ‘Are you coming?’

“His answer convinced me he was Mr. Right. ‘Yes, but I’m making hors d’oeuvres.’ Can you imagine spending the rest of your life without a man like that?”

She described her stories as being about “pretty men and strong women, about families that don’t always work and about the joy of finding love and the difficulty of making it stay.”

“The Wrong Husband,” which Brophy published in 2015, is part of her “Wrong Never Felt So Right” series.

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