Guns are "too loud and noisy” to murder your husband with, according to Oregon-based romance novelist Nancy Brophy. But ultimately, she used a ghost gun to shoot her husband twice in the chest, prosecutors allege.
“It was for writing. It was not to murder my husband,” Brophy, 71, said of the weapon. Ghost guns, while untraceable in many ways, tend to make as much noise as a regular firearm.
Prosecutors allege that 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. Her trial started this week, after being postponed by the pandemic, and the details leaking out during testimony are incredibly outlandish.
Perhaps the biggest element adding to the case's surrealism is a blog Brophy wrote in 2011 entitled, simply, “How to Murder Your Husband”—although a judge tossed it as evidence because of how far removed the writing was from the murder. The post starts with, “as a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, 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 off your husband. Among them are: guns, which she says are “too loud and noisy”; knives, which are too bloody; a garrote, which requires too much upper-body strength; and poison, which she seems to endorse. The prime suspect, ruminates Brophy, is almost certainly going to be the spouse, especially if they stand to collect a large sum of money.
“The thing I know about murder is that every one of us has it in him/her when pushed far enough,” she wrote.
“I’m calling Dan to make sure he’s alright,” one of her 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. The couple had been together since the early 1990s and had been married for over 25 years. Following his death, Nancy Brophy immediately began to collect a massive sum from multiple life insurance policies, a total of more than $1.4 million. Despite the couple being in the midst of some financial hardships, they continued to pay over $1,000 for life insurance every month.
Nancy Brophy was charged with second-degree murder three months later and is facing life in prison.
Police testified at the trial that when they first told Nancy Brophy about her murdered husband, they considered her nothing but a “grieving spouse” and “felt sad for her.” They took her home and carried on 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 a local pizza joint. They saw that early in the morning on the day of—you guessed it—Daniel Brophy’s murder, 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 hole” of this, as in she remembers none of it, but said that she was likely headed 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 romance novelist, Nancy Brophy had purchased a ghost gun kit that pulled together various firearm parts to create an unregistered firearm. Police said she handed in her glock from the ghost gun kit but that it didn’t match the shell casing found at the scene. However, they have records of her also purchasing a slide and barrel online but have not been able to locate it. A new slide and barrel would make the shell casings different.
Nancy Brophy said she bought the parts to make an untraceable weapon for research for 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 that she researched “how to load a glock” on March 26, just days before her husband was killed.
On top of all this, four days removed from 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’s heard saying in a recording 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 killing a husband, the novelist acknowledged that “police aren’t stupid,” and partners getting large insurance payouts are typically the primary suspect in mariticides. So if you’re going to pull it off you need to be “organized, ruthless, and very clever.” Still, she writes, “It is easier to wish people dead than to actually kill them” because then she doesn’t have to worry about “blood and brains splattered on my walls.”
“And really, I’m not good at remembering lies.”
Nancy Brophy’s case took another turn for the worst when her cellmate took the stand Thursday and said that during their conversations in the pen, the romance novelist “slipped up” and said “I” when speaking explaining how her husband was killed.
During her cross-examination, Nancy Brophy spoke highly of her husband and cried when talking about his death. Relatives also testified to how strong the two's relationship was. One of her nieces even said they made her think that “marriage may not be a bad idea.”
Daniel Brophy was an incredibly experienced chef in the Portland culinary scene and carried with him decades of experience working with food professionally. He was the lead chef instructor at the Oregon Culinary Institute. Friends and family told Portland Monthly in 2019 that they wouldn't speak to the media out of respect for him as he was a deeply private person.
The trail is nearing its end and is expected to wrap up early next week.
Before her brush with the law, Nancy Brophy had a little-known career as a romance novelist—writing about, as she puts it, “about pretty men and strong women.” Among her 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 marine animal or the “Kiss From a Rose” Seal.)
“Marshall and Lily are too old, too busy, and much too clever to fall in love. The oceanographer Marshall views women as a wonderful recreational pastime. Lily, the successful caterer, seeks a fantasy man for one steamy, passionate night,” reads the summation of The Wrong Lover, yet another in the Wrong collection. “This was the perfect arrangement. What could possibly go wrong?”
Multiple books penned by Nancy Brophy—including six “Wrong” books—are still available on Amazon. They have received mixed reviews.
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