On the pages of an obscure publishing blog, a strange and macabre article appears. Written by a woman named Nancy Brophy, it’s a seemingly comical take on murder – and how one might get away with offing one’s spouse. Seven years later, Nancy’s husband is found dead from a gunshot wound. Then the police come knocking.
A successful novelist, Nancy began her writing career with a University of Houston pamphlet about sexuality entitled Between Your Navel And Your Knees. Then, in 2003 she became a member of Romance Writers of America, fulfilling her dream of becoming a storyteller.
Over the years, Nancy carved out a niche for herself, publishing several successful suspense and romance novels. “My stories are 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,” she wrote on her website.
By September 2018, Nancy and David, her husband of 26 years, were living in Beaverton, a city located some seven miles west of Portland, Oregon. And just like any other couple, their marriage had its challenges – such as the time they fell victim to a house fire and spent 14 months rebuilding their home.
However, Nancy insisted that the good points of her marriage outweighed the bad. In fact, she even used her website to tell the story of when she realized that David was Mr. Right. Apparently, he was once late to join a romantic bath because he was preoccupied by making hors d’oeuvres – convincing Nancy that he was the man for her.
But while her own home life seemed somewhat unremarkable, the books that Nancy wrote told a different story. In fact, she penned a bunch of novels – collectively known as The Wrong Series – that bore the slogan “Wrong never felt so right.” However, it was in one blog post, penned in November 2011, that she really let her dark side show.
In the post, entitled “How to Murder Your Husband,” Nancy speculated about the logistics of doing away with your spouse. “As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure,” she wrote. “After all, if the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail.”
First, Nancy discussed the possible motives that a wife might have for committing such a crime. One, she reasoned, could be financial. “Divorce is expensive,” she wrote, “and do you really want to split your possessions? Or, if you married for money, aren’t you entitled to all of it?”
According to Nancy, another explanation could be a crime of passion. However, she was quick to point out the practical considerations of such a murder. “And who is left to clean the blood from your carpeting?” she pondered. Additionally, she also suggested that abuse and infidelity could both be motives – as well as, somewhat improbably, an occupation as a contract killer.
Next Nancy went on to discuss the different ways in which the crime could be committed. Apparently, guns can be noisy and create a mess, while knives result in a large amount of blood being left at the scene. Meanwhile, she pointed out that poison such as arsenic is easy to get hold of – although equally simple to trace.
In the post, Nancy also pointed out the potential pitfalls of hiring a professional to do the deed on your behalf. “An amazing number of hit men rat you out to the police,” she continued, “or blackmail you later.” Similarly, she highlighted the dangers of persuading a lover to kill your spouse.
Eventually, Nancy seemed to conclude that murder was not as easy as some might think. “I find it is easier to wish people dead than to actually kill them,” she wrote. “I don’t want to worry about blood and brains splattered on my walls. 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.”
Later, Nancy would return to this sinister theme. In 2015 she published The Wrong Husband, the fourth title in the series. In it, a woman flees her abusive husband when their cruise ship is wrecked in the Mediterranean. Interestingly, the novel also touched on the topic of mariticide.
While Nancy pursued her writing career, Daniel worked as an instructor at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, OR. According to Nancy’s website, he approached life like “a science project” – a philosophy that saw the couple live a self-sustainable lifestyle complete with a vegetable garden, turkeys and chickens.
Apparently, Daniel began working at the institute, a popular culinary school, in 2006. An expert in marine biology, he was also renowned for his knowledge about mushrooms and his outdoorsman and gardening skills. To his students, he was an inspirational figure who had a significant impact on those whom he taught.
Then, on June 2, 2018, tragedy struck. Shockingly, students discovered 63-year-old Daniel’s body in the school kitchen. He had been shot to death. The next day, Nancy announced the terrible news in a Facebook post. “My husband and best friend, Chef Dan Brophy, was killed yesterday morning,” she wrote. “I’m struggling to make sense of everything right now.”
For three months, Nancy’s family and friends rallied around her, hoping to help her come to terms with her husband’s untimely death. Then, on September 5, there came another twist in the tale – one worthy of the 68-year-old’s own suspenseful novels. That day, she was arrested in connection with Daniel’s murder.
For those who were close to Nancy, it was a shocking development. “I’ve known her 30 years,” Tania Medlin, a friend of the author’s, told KGW8 in September 2018. “I can’t imagine. I just don’t think she’s capable.” Nevertheless, on September 17 Nancy appeared via video link in court, facing charges of unlawful use of a weapon and murder.
Apparently, prosecutors believe that Nancy used a 9mm pistol to fatally shoot her husband. However, further details of the investigation have yet to be released. In court, the novelist entered a not guilty plea. Currently, she is awaiting trial while banned from contacting several people, including relatives.
Bizarrely, the words of Nancy’s 2011 blog post seem to have come back to haunt her. “The drawback is the police aren’t stupid,” she wrote. “They are looking at you first.” But has life really imitated art, and did the novelist’s fiction about killing her husband turn into a dark reality? The truth remains to be seen.