Woman Who Wrote 'How to Murder Your Husband' Essay Faces Murder Trial in Husband's Death

Nancy Crampton Brophy is on trial for murder in the 2018 death of her culinary instructor husband, Dan Brophy

Photo: Courtesy Brophy Family

On the morning of June 2, 2018, Dan Brophy was filling buckets of ice and water at a sink, preparing for his day as an instructor at the Oregon Culinary Institute. Then, someone came into the kitchen and shot him in the back.

Brophy fell to the ground, and was shot again in the chest at close range. He was found by students a short time later.

His death shocked and saddened the Oregon culinary world where Brophy, a chef who had a particular expertise in mushrooms, was well-known.

And nobody seemed more distraught about it than his wife, Nancy Crampton Brophy, a self-published romance novelist who sold Medicare and life insurance policies.

"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 on Facebook the day after his death.

Those who knew Brophy wondered how anyone could harbor animosity against him.

"I was in complete shock," Brophy's student, Madison Amburgy, told PEOPLE in 2018.

In addition to his kitchen skills, Brophy was known for his generosity with the local homeless community. Those close to him say he possessed a dry wit and was known for his witticisms — or "Brophyisms." He also had other charming quirks, like making students wear oven mitts when they neglected to wash their hands, or making them wear a sombrero or a clown hat if they forgot their chef's hats.

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

But, in September of 2018, in a twist befitting her own romantic mystery novels, Crampton Brophy, the author of a 2011 tongue-in-cheek essay on her website entitled "How to Murder Your Husband," was charged with murder in Brophy's death.

This week, three years after her arrest, Crampton Brophy is standing trial on murder charges in the death of her husband, who was her partner of more than two decades.

'The Perfect Plan'

Prosecutors allege Crampton Brophy killed her husband to benefit from a $1.5 million life insurance policy.

She "executed what she perhaps believed to be the perfect plan," Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Shawn Overstreet told the jury in the trial's opening statements, the The Oregonian reports. "All of the leads that detectives followed up with all pointed back at Nancy Brophy."

Crampton Brophy's defense attorney Lisa Maxfield argued that her client had no reason to kill her husband and did not benefit from his violent death.

The Wrong HusbandNancy Crampton-Brophy

"Nancy Crampton Brophy has always been thoroughly, madly, crazy in love with Daniel Brophy, and she still is today," Maxfield told the jury, according to the The Washington Post.

Authorities disagree. While there were no surveillance cameras in the institute where Brophy was shot, prosecutors argued Crampton Brophy was seen on video surveillance driving a minivan around the culinary institute between 6:39 a.m. and 7:28 a.m. on the day of the killing. Brophy arrived at the institute at 7:20 a.m.


In addition, authorities said they discovered that Crampton Brophy purchased a 9mm pistol at a Portland gun show before her husband's death. She then allegedly switched out the gun's barrel with a Glock slide and barrel she had purchased on eBay — "thus being able to present a new, fully intact firearm to police that would not be a match to the shell casings that she left at the crime scene," prosecutors said in previous motions.

Crampton Brophy previously told detectives that she and her husband bought the 9mm pistol after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, but said they never used it and didn't buy ammunition for the gun.

Maxfield told the jury that Crampton Brophy purchased the slide and barrel for research purposes.

'She Was the Love of His Life'

The couple seemingly had the perfect relationship. Dan's fondness for his wife was on full display 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, Crampton Brophy described her marriage as having "ups and downs" but "more good times than bad."

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"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?"

The trial is scheduled to last several weeks.

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