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Nancy Brophy, romance novelist who wrote "How to Murder Your Husband," sentenced to life in prison for killing her husband

Mystery writer accused of killing husband
Oregon murder-mystery writer arrested in husband's death 01:32

A self-published romance novelist — who once wrote an essay titled "How to Murder Your Husband" — has been sentenced to life in prison in the fatal shooting of her husband four years ago. Nancy Crampton Brophy was convicted last month in the 2018 killing of her chef husband, Daniel Brophy.

Judge Christopher Ramras, who presided over the trial, said Crampton Brophy will be considered for parole after 25 years, KOIN-TV reported.

The sentencing included impact statements from Daniel Brophy's family members, including his son, Nathaniel Stillwater, the station reported.

"You are a monster and I'm ashamed that I have to admit to my children that people like you walk among us undetected," Stillwater said. "You lived in the shadow of a great human being."  

Brophy, 63, was killed June 2, 2018 as he prepped for work at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Southwest Portland. He had worked at the school since 2006.

Prosecutors told jurors that Crampton Brophy was motivated by money problems and a life insurance policy.

Crampton Brophy said during the trial, however, that she had no reason to kill her husband and that their financial problems had largely been solved by cashing in a chunk of Brophy's retirement savings plan.

She owned the same make and model of gun used to kill her husband and was seen on surveillance camera footage driving to and from the culinary institute, court exhibits and court testimony showed.

Nancy L. Crampton-Brophy is seen during a court appearance in Multnomah County, Oregon, on Sept. 6, 2018.
Nancy L. Crampton-Brophy is seen during a court appearance in Multnomah County, Oregon, on Sept. 6, 2018. KOIN-TV

Police never found the gun that killed Brophy. Prosecutors alleged Crampton Brophy swapped out the barrel of the gun used in the shooting and then discarded the barrel.

Defense attorneys said the gun parts were inspiration for Crampton Brophy's writing and suggested someone else might have killed Brophy during a robbery gone wrong. Crampton Brophy testified during the trial that her presence near the culinary school on the day of her husband's death was mere coincidence and that she had parked in the area to work on her writing.

Crampton Brophy's how-two treatise detailed various options for committing an untraceable killing and professed a desire to avoid getting caught. Circuit Ramras ultimately excluded the essay from the trial, noting it was published in 2011.

"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," Ramras said.

A prosecutor, however, alluded to the essay's themes without naming it after Crampton Brophy took the stand in her own defense.

Crampton Brophy has remained in custody since her arrest in September 2018, several months after her husband was shot. Her sentencing has been scheduled for June 13.

In an online biography featuring her work, Crampton Brophy writes that she is "married to a chef whose mantra is: life is a science project."

"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."

Neighbor Don McConnell told KOIN-TV in 2018 that Brophy didn't appear to be upset in the wake of Brophy's death. "She's taking it well, and that's what I said, you know, I said maybe some people can handle things better than others," McConnell said.

Crampton Brophy kept busy preparing to move, McConnell said. "Even after she said, 'I'm a suspect,'" he said, "I just thought oh, yeah, well, they always suspect the opposite spouse."

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