An US judge in the state of Oregon has sentenced Nancy Crampton Brophy, a romance author who apparently foretold of her crime in an essay titled “How to murder your husband”, to life in prison for the shooting death of her late spouse.
Crampton Brophy, 71, was found guilty of second degree murder last month. A jury found that she shot her husband of 26 years in 2018 for a $1.5m (£1.2m) life insurance pay-out.
Before her crime, Crampton Brophy had been a self-published author whose works of steamy romance and suspense include novels such as “The Wrong Husband” and “The Wrong Lover”.
Her late husband, Daniel Brophy, was a chef and respected teacher at the Oregon Culinary Institute. He was found shot twice in the kitchen of the Institute in June 2018. His widow was convicted of the murder last month.
The case attracted much attention for an essay Crampton Brophy had written years before the crime, titled “How to murder your husband”. “The thing I know about murder is that every one of us have it in him/her when pushed far enough,” she had said in the now-deleted post.
She listed a number of ways to commit mariticide, from guns and knives to poison and hitmen before writing “it is easier to wish people dead than to actually kill them”. She added: “If the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail”.
A judge ruled against admitting the essay as evidence at her trial because it was penned years earlier as part of a writing seminar. But prosecutors did not need the text.
They successfully argued that Crampton Brophy had the motive and the means to murder her partner, showing the couple had fallen on hard times financially, and she stood to pocket a hefty insurance pay-out after his death.
Crampton Brophy was seen driving to and from the Institute at the time of the crime in surveillance footage shown in court. And although police never found the murder weapon, she was shown to have purchased a gun of the same make and model.
Taking the stand in her own defence, the author claimed she had a “memory hole” from the morning of Brophy’s death. She could not however deny it was her driving around the Institute.
A jury of 12 found her guilty of second-degree murder after deliberating for less than two days. Her life sentence, handed down on Monday, carries the possibility of parole after 25 years. Her lawyers said they plan to appeal.
Ahead of the sentencing, friends and family members of the late chef delivered statements.
“You opted to lie, cheat, steal, defraud and ultimately kill the man that was your biggest fan,” said Nathaniel Stillwater, Brophy’s son from a previous marriage. “You were – to borrow from your catalogue – the wrong wife.”