Nancy Crampton-Brophy is accused of killing her chef husband in June 2018

By Christine Pelisek
February 20, 2019 03:34 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Brophy Family

An Oregon romance novelist who allegedly murdered her husband last June is being sued for $1.7 million by the slain man’s son.

The wrongful death lawsuit against Nancy Crampton-Brophy filed by her stepson Nathaniel Stillwater claims the novelist “murdered and/or conspired with others” in the death of his father, well-known chef Dan Brophy.

“He doesn’t have any doubts she is responsible,” Christine S. Mascal, the attorney for Stillwater, tells PEOPLE.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court Tuesday, Stillwater, as a personal representative of his father’s estate, is asking for $200,000 for his father’s pain and suffering; $500,000 for losses; and $1 million for Stillwater’s loss of his father.

On the morning of June 2, Dan, an instructor at the Oregon Culinary Institute, was found fatally wounded by his students at the institute. According to the lawsuit, he died from multiple gunshot wounds.

The day after his death, Nancy, a self-published romance novelist of such books as “The Wrong Husband” who sold Medicare and life insurance policies, took to Facebook to express her grief.

“For those of you who are close to me and feel this deserved a phone call, you are right, but I’m struggling to make sense of everything right now,” she wrote.

Nancy Crampton-BrophyCredit: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
Nancy Crampton-Brophy
| Credit: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

The couple seemed to have the perfect life. They lived near Portland, where they raised chickens and tended to a large vegetable garden. Dan’s fondness for his wife was evident in his classroom where he’d affectionately refer to her as “management.”

“She was the love of his life,” Dan’s former student Travis Richartz told PEOPLE.

The affection appeared mutual. On her website, Nancy described her marriage as having “ups and downs” but “more good times than bad.”

“I can’t tell you when I fell in love with my husband, but I [can] relate the moment I decided to marry him. 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?’ ” she wrote.

“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?”

dan-brophy
Dan Brophy
| Credit: Linkedin

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Those who knew Dan — who was also a mushroom expert — wondered how anyone could harbor animosity against him.

“I was in complete shock,” Dan’s student Madison Amburgy told PEOPLE.

Not only was Dan known for his kitchen prowess and generosity with the local homeless community, he also possessed a dry wit and was known for his “Brophyisms” and other quirks — like making students wear oven mitts when they neglected to wash their hands, or making them wear a sombrero or clown hat if they forgot their chef’s hats.

“He had a closet full of different hats and jackets, and wacky cow outfits that you would velcro the parts of the cow onto,” Richartz said. “He was just that guy that you showed up to his class, kinda never knowing what to expect. He was always a guy to keep you on your toes.”

The Wrong HusbandNancy Crampton-Brophy

But, in September, in a twist befitting her own romantic mystery novels, Nancy was charged with murder in Dan’s death. Authorities allege she used a 9mm handgun to commit the crime.

However, authorities have not revealed a motive or evidence in the case and they have not disclosed details on how they believe the crime occurred.

Nancy has pleaded not guilty and remains held without bail at the Multnomah County jail. Her attorney could not be reached for comment.

It was not clear if she has retained counsel for the civil case against her.