Did A Romance Novelist In Portland Gun Down Her Own Husband?

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Portland, Oregon
One of the two cars in the new aerial tram rises above Portland, Oregon at sunrise on Jan. 31, 2007.

An Oregon romance novelist is on trial for what state prosecutors said was the calculated murder of her husband in 2018. In a twist, the author herself is known for authoring a blog that was literally titled ‘How To Murder Your Husband.’   

On Wednesday, Nancy Crampton Brophy testified in her own defense against allegations that she murdered her husband Dan Brophy in an early morning slaying on June 2, 2018, inside a culinary school. Prosecutors accuse the novelist of shooting Brophy to collect on his life insurance in a bid to stave off her own financial devastation.

The case itself reads like fiction, which itself is a twist given that Crampton Brophy is herself a writer. What adds to the bizarreness of the case is Crampton  Brophy’s romantic fiction works have included pieces centered on themes like love and betrayal. Her portfolio even includes a 2011 blog post titled ‘How To Murder Your Husband.’ 

According to detectives, the husband was shot in the back, spine and lungs at about 7:30 AM the same day. 

Initially, the police did not view Crampton Brophy as a potential suspect. However, that view began to shift after she showed them a gun in her closet that she insisted was for self-defense. 

Soon after this, detectives pored over surveillance footage from a nearby business outside the culinary school where Brophy taught. In it, they spotted a silver Toyota minivan that they matched her vehicle cruising the streets outside the culinary school where Brophy was shot to death. At the wheel was Crampton Brophy and it arrived outside the school at 6:39 AM, directly contradicting the given alibi that placed her at home at 7:00 AM.

As they continued to look into Crampton Brophy’s actions ahead of her husband’s shooting, detectives discovered she purchased a “ghost gun” kit that included a slide and barrel assembly that was never recovered. 

A ghost gun is a firearm that lacks a registration number, is unregulated and can be assembled piece by piece.

Presented with the footage at trial, Crampton Brophy insisted she had "absolutely no memory" of what was a 6.5-mile trip between the couple’s Beaverton home and Portland’s Goose Hollow neighborhood where the now-defunct culinary school was located. She went on to emphatically deny possessing any motive to murder her husband. 

Asked about the ghost gun, Crampton Brophy defended the purchase as essential for research she was doing for a new novel and her husband knew of it. But she admitted to swapping the barrel and slide on the gun she previously owned with the ghost parts, something she again defended as part of her research.

At the heart of the prosecutors’ case are the holes in Crampton Brophy’s recollection of events and the surveillance footage of her vehicle near the scene of the crime. However, prosecutors have been unable to locate the murder weapon nor have they been able to identify any witnesses in the case. 

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