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A romance novelist who wrote an essay entitled ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ accidentally admitted to shooting dead her chef spouse to a cellmate, a court heard.
Prosecutors in Portland, Oregon claimed Tuesday that Nancy Crampton Brophy, 71, accidentally let slip that she’d shot chef husband Daniel Brophy, 63, dead at the Oregon Culinary Institute in June 2018.
She’s said to have made the accidental admission while chatting to former cellmate Anndrea B Jacobs at the Inverness low security jail in Portland in September 2018.
‘Ms. Brophy held her arms apart, like a wingspan, and said “I was this far away when the shooting happened,” Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Shawn Overstreet said of the alleged conversation.
‘She then corrected herself,’ Overstreet continued, and said the shooting happened at close range.
Brophy has previously insisted she’s innocent of the crime, and has sought to blame it on a mystery assailant.
She’s accused of carrying out the killing to cash-in Daniel’s $1.4 million life insurance policy, and faces life behind bars if convicted of the second-degree murder charges she faces.
Nancy Crampton Brophy, 71, is facing trial for allegedly murdering her husband of 21 years
Daniel Brophy, 63, was killed in June 2018 as he prepared for work inside an Oregon Culinary Institute classroom
A reference to the cellmate came in a long, partially illegible letter that Crampton Brophy received in March, Overstreet explained, according to Oregon Live.
It was intercepted by jail officials, and became a crucial piece of evidence in the trial.
He said authorities did not immediately understand the significance of the letter, but were able to track down the cellmate, who was transferred to a prison in Texas after being convicted on embezzlement charges, to interview her about what Crampton Brophy allegedly said.
In the interview, Overstreet said, Jacobs appeared embarrassed after telling authorities of Crampton Brophy’s alleged confession.
‘Ms. Jacobs reported that it became very awkward’ afterward, Overstreet said, noting that Jacobs later told her attorneys she ‘didn’t want to go and be a snitch.’
But defense attorney Kristen Winemiller argued that Jacob cannot be brought in as a witness in the trial because the defense has already rested its case.
‘To respond to this would require a significant investigation,’ Winemiller told Circuit Court Judge Christopher Ramras, adding: ‘It’s just simply too late, after they’ve rested to bring in another witness of this magnitude.’
Winemiller said she only learned of the audio recording from the detectives’ interview with Jacobs this past Monday, adding that Jacobs is suspected of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicaid fraud – though Overstreet said he wasn’t aware of an active investigation.
In the end, Ramras declined to rule on the matter immediately, Oregon Live reports, and instead asked for written arguments to be submitted by May 11.
Crampton Brophy, left, was arrested for his murder in September 2018, and later allegedly told her cellmate inside the Inverness Jail in Northeast Portland, Anndrea B Jones, right, that the shooting occurred at close range – apparently admitting to the shooting
Circuit Court Judge Christopher Ramras has previously ruled that prosecutors cannot introduce into evidence an essay titled ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ that Crampton Brophy wrote in 2011 while applying to a writer’s group
The accusations of a confession came as testimony resumed in Crampton Brody’s murder trial following an 11-day delay when Overstreet came down with COVID-19. The jury has also lost one of its members due to illness, Oregon Live reports.
Previously in the trial, Judge Ramras ruled that prosecutors cannot introduce as evidence an essay titled ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ that Crampton Brophy wrote in 2011 while applying to a writer’s group.
‘As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure,’ Crampton Brophy wrote in the essay.
‘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.’
The essay also weighed valid motives for murder, including infidelity and the costs of a divorce, and methods; knives are ‘really personal’ while guns are ‘loud, messy (and) require some skill.’
But Ramras deemed the post too old to be relevant – and said that any value it may provide the trial is outweighed by the prejudice it may spark.
He ruled that ‘any minimal probative value of an article written that long ago is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice and confusion of the issues.’
Crampton Brophy also wrote in an online biography about the struggles of being married to a chef.
‘As a result there are chickens and turkeys in my backyard, a fabulous vegetable garden which also grows tobacco for an insecticide and a hot meal on the table every night,’ she wrote.
‘For those of you who have longed for this, let me caution you. The old adage is true. Be careful what you wish for, when the gods are truly angry, they grant us our wishes.’
Prosecutors claim Crampton Brophy killed her husband to take his $1.4 million life insurance policy, playing a tape of her asking a detective four days later to write a letter specifically exonerating her in her husband’s death so she could collect the money
Brophy was killed in a teaching kitchen at the Oregon Culinary Institute in southwest Portland, where he had worked since 2006.
Crampton Brophy was caught on camera half an hour before his death driving to the culinary institute.
Twenty minutes later, she drove away and went home to Beavertown.
Prosecutors claim that Crampton Brophy was motivated by his $1.4 million life insurance policy, and played an audio recording to the court of her asking a detective four days later to write a letter specifically exonerating her in her husband’s death so she could collect the life insurance policy.
She claimed the policy was worth $40,000, but investigators said she tried to claim 10 different policies that totaled $1.4 million, as well as a worker’s compensation plan because he was killed on the job.
‘Nancy Brophy was maintaining all those life insurance policies while continuing down a path of financial ruin,’ said Overstreet.
‘Well over a thousand dollars a month was being paid into these policies at a time when they were struggling to pay their mortgage.’
He said that despite Crampton Brophy and Brophy celebrating a large wedding in 1997, they did not actually legally wed until shortly before he was murdered.
The kitchen showed no signs of a break-in, and Brophy’s wallet and phone were on him at the time of death.
No suspects were ever identified except for Crampton Brophy, who was arrested in September 2018 and pleaded not guilty to the crime.
The court also previously heard how Crampton Brophy (pictured in court) had bought a ‘ghost gun’ assembly kit online on Christmas Eve 2017
Lisa Maxfield, one of Crampton Brophy’s defense attorneys, said she bought the guns as research for her novels and claimed Crampton Brophy had worked as a salesperson for a variety of insurance companies
The court also previously heard how she had bought a ‘ghost gun’ assembly kit online on Christmas Eve 2017, which Brophy himself signed for when it was delivered in January 2018, and his wife was traveling for work.
Unable to put the gun together, Nancy bought another gun at a Portland gun show in February 2018 and, a month later, began practicing at a gun range.
Overstreet said Crampton Brophy used a Glock pistol she bought at the gun show to shoot her husband, then swapped out the gun’s barrel with an identical mechanism, preventing forensic experts from matching the spent bullets with the original slide-racking system.
Lisa Maxfield, one of two defense lawyers, said Crampton Brophy bought the guns as research for her novels.
She also said Crampton Brophy had worked as a salesperson for a variety of insurance companies and had an incentive to buy multiple policies when she changed jobs, to demonstrate her belief in the product, and because she received a commission.
Maxfield told the court the ‘circumstantial case’ against Crampton Brophy ‘begs you to cast a blind eye to the most powerful evidence of all: love.’
She said her client had no reason to kill her husband, and her finances deteriorated after his death.
‘Nancy has always been thoroughly, madly, crazily in love with Dan Brophy, and she remains so to this day,’ Maxfield said.
Crampton Brophy was a struggling novelist, whose titles include Hell of the Heart, The Wrong Husband and The Wrong Cop
But the novelist, whose titles include The Wrong Husband and The Wrong Cop, previously spoke about her home life in writer forums, where she said their marriage, like any other, had its ‘ups and downs’.
The blog post, which she wrote on the site Seeing Jane in 2011, began: ‘As a suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure.
It included five potential motives for wanting to kill your husband that were divided into the following categories;
‘Financial: Divorce is expensive, and do you really want to split your possessions?’
‘Lying, cheating b*****d: This is a crime of passion. In anger, you bash his head in or stab him with a kitchen knife.’
‘Fell in love with someone else: 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.’
‘Abuser: This one is tough. Anybody can claim abuse. What is abuse?’
‘It’s your profession: Now we’re talking. You already possess both skill and knowledge.
‘You have the moral ambiguity necessary to carry it off.’
She also gave the reader ‘options’ on what their murder weapon or technique should be.
She wrote: ‘Guns – loud, messy, require some skill. If it takes 10 shots for the sucker to die, either you have terrible aim or he’s on drugs.
‘Knives – really personal and up close. Blood everywhere. Eww.’