PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – “It was Dan.” Those were the words Karen Brophy says her daughter-in-law, Nancy Crampton Brophy, used to tell Karen that her son was found dead at the Oregon Culinary Institute. 

Karen Brophy testified in court Wednesday. Her daughter-in-law Nancy is suspected of murdering her husband, Karen’s son, Daniel Brophy on June 2, 2018. Daniel Brophy was a chef and instructor at the Oregon Culinary Institute, where he was fatally shot. 

In her testimony, Karen said she received a call from Nancy the morning of June 2. Nancy said she received a call from someone informing her of a shooting at OCI. Nancy said she didn’t plan on going to the school because she thought there would be a lot of police officers and cars in the area. 

In that first phone call, Karen said Nancy sounded like herself and didn’t sound like she was panicking. 

A little while later, Karen called Nancy back and told Nancy she needed to go to the school to see what was going on. 

Karen called her daughter again a little while later to see what she found out and that’s when Nancy broke the news to her. 

“After she said that, I don’t remember if there was any more conversation. I was absolutely devastated.” Karen said. 

She said Nancy was crying after she told her the news. 

Officer Cassandra Wells from the Portland Police Bureau was another witness who testified Wednesday. Wells was one of the first officers at the scene and was there when Nancy arrived at OCI and heard the news. She also said Nancy started crying immediately and officer Wells gave her a hug. 

Day 3: Nancy Crampton Brophy trial
Portland Police Bureau officer Cassandra Wells testifies in the murder trial of Nancy Crampton Brophy on April 6, 2022. (KOIN)

Wells remembered responding to the code-3 incident and explained that means police need to get to a scene immediately and that it can involve a crime in progress or someone injured and in need of assistance. 

When she arrived at the scene, she remembers a paramedic telling her about the shooting victim and that there were a bunch of students waiting in the break room area with their hands on the tables. The students had just arrived for class that morning when one student discovered Daniel’s body and tried performing CPR on him. 

Wells said the students were moved to the OCI administrative building across the street and were told to leave all their belongings behind for the investigation. 

“The building is a crime scene so we don’t want them to go through their stuff and take anything out,” Wells explained. 

She said she stood next to Nancy until detectives arrived. Wells said she didn’t ask Nancy any questions at that time and they didn’t have any conversation. 

The first witness to testify Wednesday morning was Maxine Borcherding, someone who had known both Nancy and Daniel for many years. Borcherding said she met Nancy when Nancy began to take over as the caterer of a synagogue where Borcherding had been temporarily working. Borcherding was asked to teach Nancy some traditional recipes. 

At the time of Daniel’s murder, Borcherding was a hospitality instructor at OCI. The two had also previously worked together at a former Portland culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu. 

When she heard about the police activity at OCI on June 2, 2018, Borcherding called Daniel to see if he knew what was going on, since he was teaching at the school that day. When Daniel didn’t pick up, she left a voicemail and called Nancy. 

Nancy told Borcherding she didn’t know what was going on. Borcherding told her that she’d heard someone had been shot. 

Borcherding didn’t find out until later that Daniel was the victim. 

Day 3: Nancy Crampton Brophy trial
Nancy Crampton Brophy, top, sits next to her attorneys at the third day of her murder trial on April 6, 2022. She’s accused of murdering her husband Danial Brophy on June 2, 2018. (KOIN)

Prosecutors asked Borcherding if she knew much about Nancy and Daniel’s relationship and she said Nancy was always Daniel’s biggest cheerleader and biggest defender, even when Borcherding complained about him. 

“She always defended him. She always came up with a reason that he was OK,” she said. 

Borcherding said that Daniel had an ongoing issue over the years of embarrassing or dismissing students and that he tended to be sarcastic with them. 

“Dan was an incredibly knowledgeable instructor in many, many areas. If he thought a student worthy of his time and attention, he was the best instructor and mentor that a student could ask for. But if for whatever reason, he was not happy with the students, he could be pretty harsh,” she said. 

Borcherding also told the court that in her time at OCI, she’d noticed that the homeless people who camped in the area near the school had grown more aggressive over the years leading up to 2018.