PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Sarah Gitchell said her aunt, Nancy Crampton Brophy, has been like a mother figure to her, after she and her own mother became estranged in 2014.
Sarah testified Monday morning in Nancy’s murder trial. Nancy is accused of killing her husband, Daniel Brophy, at the Oregon Culinary Institute on June 2, 2018.
Sarah and her husband Matthew Gitchell, who testified for the defense Thursday, said that about a week before Daniel was murdered, the Gitchells held a birthday party for their son and said the Brophys attended.
Sarah echoed much of what her husband stated. She said Daniel and Nancy seemed normal at the party. They arrived together and spent time with the Gitchells’ son. Sarah said Daniel and Nancy often took on the role of grandparents for her son.
On the day of the birthday party, Sarah said she was busy looking after her son, but remembers looking over at some point and seeing the Brophys sitting together in the armchair in her living room. She said the armchair wasn’t big enough for two people, but Nancy was sitting on top of Daniel’s lap.
“He had his arms around her, and I remember it just struck me because, I mean, they looked like a couple of teenagers. They did not they did not look like a couple in their 60s,” she said.
Sarah said whenever Daniel would come over, her husband Matthew would want to impress him with his cooking skills, since Daniel was known as a great chef and taught at the culinary institute.
On the day of the party, Sarah remembered what Daniel said as he left.
“Dan turned and said, ‘Good pork,’ which you know, for him was a huge compliment,” Sarah said.
Dan was known to be a man of few words, so she said it was a big deal for him to share his opinion out loud.
Sarah recounted this memory while crying and said that was the last thing Daniel ever said to her and her husband. After hearing the words said in court, Nancy began crying as well.
Nancy took on a maternal role in Sarah’s life and together they would talk about almost everything. Sarah said they’d talk about politics and sometimes complain to each other about their marriages. She said the biggest issue Nancy would complain about was how messy Dan could be, but Sarah never interpreted Nancy’s complaints as being a reason she would want to end the marriage.
“I had some similar struggles in my household, differences in levels of tidiness and, would sometimes come to kind of gripe to her about it. And her answer to that was always… ‘I could spend 1,000 days in a clean house without Dan and not be happy. I’ll take the messy house anytime,’” Sarah said.
She said she was under the impression the Brophys were starting to think about retirement, although Sarah had never heard Daniel talk about leaving his job at OCI.
She said the couple had talked about possibly moving to a home somewhere between Portland and the coast. In the months leading up to Daniel’s death, Sarah had noticed improvements to the backyard. She said the blackberries that had taken over the garden had been cut back.
After Daniel’s death, Sarah said Nancy seemed to be in a fog and at one point said she didn’t know what to do with her life without him. She said, “Dan being gone wasn’t part of the plan.”
Sarah said Nancy had a stiff upper lip and often didn’t show her full emotions in public, but Sarah said she saw her aunt sobbing at times after Daniel’s death and that she broke down while speaking at Daniel’s memorial service.
Before the memorial, Sarah said her aunt had told her she didn’t care if they caught the person who killed Daniel because it would never bring him back. But Sarah said she seemed to change her mind about this during the memorial and started begging people who might know something about the crime to contact police.
Nancy had told Sarah that she assumed she would be considered a suspect, since she was the wife of someone who had been murdered. Later in the summer of 2018, Sarah asked Nancy again if she thought she was a suspect and Nancy told her she did not because she hadn’t heard anything more from police.
Nancy was arrested on Sept. 5, 2018.
Sarah said Nancy never talked to her about guns before Daniel was murdered and Sarah did not know Nancy owned guns until Nancy’s attorneys contacted her to inform her.
Sarah said her aunt’s attorneys also told her about the surveillance video that appears to show Nancy inside her minivan near OCI at the time of Daniel’s murder. While Sarah said she’s aware of this information, she said she has not spoken to Nancy about any of it while Nancy is in jail “because those conversations are recorded and go to the police. So it didn’t, doesn’t seem wise to discuss the case.”
Other witnesses who testified Monday morning include Tom Bethel, former director of OCI; Vicki Schmall, someone who hired Daniel and Nancy to give cooking demonstrations to a group she was involved in; and Janet Brown, Nancy’s cousin.