In November 2011, self-described “romantic suspense writer” Nancy Crampton Brophy penned a short blog titled “How to Murder Your Husband,” in which she confessed to spending “a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure.”
“After all,” she wrote in the post, if “murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail. And let me say clearly for the record, I don’t like jumpsuits and orange isn’t my color.”
Seven year later, her real-life husband of nearly three decades, Dan Brophy, was found dead on the floor of the culinary institute where he worked. Investigators determined he’d been standing at a sink and shot twice in the back. The first bullet penetrated his spine, paralyzing him. The second, at close range, pierced his heart.
The trail ran cold for months until detectives discovered Crampton Brophy’s Google searches for “ghost guns” and “Glock 17 slide for sale.” CCTV footage captured near the scene of the crime in Oregon also showed a minivan identical to the one Crampton Brophy drove. She was arraigned wearing a jail jumpsuit, light blue. She pleaded not guilty to the murder, and is being held in jail awaiting trial.
Her alleged motive remained a mystery until now, due to a batch of sealed court records. Along with thousands of other inmates across the country, Crampton Brophy requested to be released from jail due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Her lawyers argued that her diabetes put her at a high risk of contracting the virus, according to The Oregonian.
In a memorandum seen by ELLE.com arguing against her release, authorities finally reveal what they suspect was a meticulous insurance scheme concocted by Crampton Brophy to bag $1.5 million and start a new life.
“Nancy [Crampton] Brophy planned and carried out what she believed was the perfect murder,” Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill wrote in the document, as first reported by KGW8. “A murder that she believed would free her from the grips of financial despair and enter a life of financial security and adventure.”
The couple had a seemingly pleasant life together in suburban Portland, raising chickens and tending their garden, according to The Oregonian. But in the newly released memorandum, Underhill claims they actually lived on a tight month to month budget. Crampton Brophy tried to keep them afloat by self-publishing steamy romance books, including one titled “The Wrong Husband.” Still, they fell behind on mortgage payments.
“As Nancy [Crampton] Brophy became more financially desperate and her writing career was floundering, she was left with few options,” according to the prosecutor’s motion. “Nancy [Crampton] Brophy once wrote that finances could be motivation for murdering a spouse… The bottom line is Dan Brophy was worth almost $1.5 million dollars to Nancy Brophy if he was dead and he was worth a life of financial hardship if he stayed alive.”
Investigators allegedly discovered that Crampton Brophy was the sole beneficiary to over $1.15 million in life insurance and worker’s compensation policies, and the couple had about $312,000 in equity in their home.
“Despite a dire financial situation Nancy [Crampton] Brophy ensured she paid the life insurance premiums leading up to the murder,” according to the motion. “In fact, she paid over $16,000.00 in insurance premiums in 2017 while the Brophy’s fell over $6,000.00 behind in mortgage payments that same year.”
In the document, it’s revealed that homicide detectives interviewed Crampton Brophy’s friends, who claim she wanted to sell their home and travel the world, but didn’t think she could “convince” her husband to do it.
“Dan Brophy was content in his simplistic lifestyle,” Underhill wrote in the memorandum, “but Nancy Brophy wanted something more.”
A circuit court judge reportedly denied the request on Wednesday to have Crampton Brophy taken out of jail , moved to an “undisclosed guest house,” and placed under GPS monitoring to avoid contracting COVID-19, according to The Oregonian.
“Self-confinement in an undisclosed location, supervised by undisclosed individuals, while wearing a passive GPS monitor is not a program conducted by the Department of Corrections,” deputy district attorney Shawn Overstreet said, according to the outlet. “[It] is clearly not a suitable alternative to being confined in the jail.”