Editor’s notes: This article contains descriptions of events that some readers may find disturbing.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – State prosecutors launched into day two of the Nancy Crampton Brophy murder trial in Portland Tuesday by calling three former Oregon Culinary Institute students to the witness stand.
Nancy Crampton Brophy’s husband, Chef Daniel Brophy, was found fatally shot inside the Oregon Culinary Institute on June 2, 2018, when students had just arrived for their classes that Saturday morning. Crampton Brophy was arrested and charged with the murder of her husband in September 2018.
Clarinda Perez was the person to discover Daniel Brophy on his back on the floor of a culinary institute kitchen. She was the third witness to testify Tuesday.
In her account, Perez spoke about how she arrived to OCI early that day because it was “live fire” day, when culinary students would simulate a restaurant cook line and make orders the instructor, Chef Daniel Brophy, would write down for them.
When she arrived at OCI, she noticed other students from the culinary and pastry programs were waiting outside the student entrance to the school. The door was locked, which Perez thought was unusual for such an important day. She compared the live fire day to a final exam for culinary students.
She walked to a nearby Starbucks, purchased a drink and by the time she returned to the school, Chef Dorothy Sadie Damon – the pastry instructor who was teaching that day – had opened the door and students were filing in.
Once inside OCI, Perez said she believes she went to fill her water bottle and noticed the water container was not in its usual spot. On a normal Saturday, she said Chef Brophy would have had the water container filled, along with the coffee, and ready for students.
She walked into the nearest kitchen, Kitchen 1, and heard the water running; the lights were on. That’s when she saw Chef Brophy lying on the floor.
At the time, Perez said she was a medical assistant. She checked to see if Chef Brophy was responsive, when he wasn’t, she ran to the doorway and yelled for someone to call 911.
Perez immediately began CPR.
“His chest was really squishy,” Perez explained between sobs as she testified, “and I thought I had broken a rib because as I continued to do compressions, my hands started getting full of blood.”
She had no idea Chef Brophy had been shot. She thought she caused an open rib fracture, but continued compressions because she’d been taught to not stop, even if she thought she’d broken a bone. No blood was visible before she started compressions.
Eventually, she stopped and EMTs and paramedics arrived. She said she sat against a stove in the kitchen with her ears covered for a long time before going outside.
“He pushed us to our true potential and he was very caring in everything that he showed us and taught us,” Perez said, in describing her former instructor.
The first witness to testify Tuesday was Courtney Arias. She was a pastry student at the Oregon Culinary Institute at the time of Chef Brophy’s death.
She also remembered the student door being locked that morning and waiting outside for Damon to open it.
Once the door was opened and students went inside, she said it seemed like a typical Saturday morning, people were laughing and chatting, but that soon changed.
“And then all of a sudden I heard ‘Help me!’” Arias recalled, crying as she testified. “At first I thought they were joking, and then I saw one of my classmates Katie run past the window, because we have a window in our classrooms, and she ran past it on the phone, and she’s on the phone 911.”
She said she went into the kitchen where everyone was and saw Chef Brophy on his back.
She left the kitchen and waited by the lockers. She didn’t realize Chef Brophy had been shot until she and other students heard it from a responding police officer or paramedic.
Miranda Bernhard was the second person to testify Tuesday morning. She was a culinary student of Chef Brophy’s at the time
“He was a really great instructor. He was all about nature and foraging and we would talk about gardening a lot,” she said.
She remembers arriving at school early that day for the live fire event. She said it wasn’t that uncommon for the student door to be locked, sometimes Chef Brophy would forget to unlock it.
What stood out to her was that a garage door on the side of the building was open. She said that seemed unusual for a weekend. Typically, it was only opened for deliveries. Neither she nor the other witnesses who testified Tuesday morning said they saw anyone go through the garage door. She said students waited outside the student entrance because that was what they were taught to do.
When she went into the school and Chef Brophy’s body was discovered, Bernhard remembers seeing Perez kneeling next to him and starting chest compressions.
Bernhard volunteered to keep other students out of the kitchen. She prevented a man who was a student from entering at one time.
When she was in the kitchen, Bernhard remembers noticing a table was askew. Typically the two tables in the kitchen are in a row, but one had been knocked out of place. Perez also remembers this. Both witnesses said they did not move the table.
Bernhard said she also learned about the gunshot wound from police, she said she overheard it from one of their radios or scanners. The people in the building were asked to sit around the tables in the student lounge and place their hands on the tables, that’s when Bernhard said she realized the seriousness of the situation.
- Nancy Brophy’s 2011 blog “How to murder your husband” was excluded from evidence
- The financial challenges faced by the Brophys
- The multiple gun purchases made by Nancy Brophy
- The life insurance purchases made by the Brophys over the years
- The state of their marriage
- The first witnesses — the OCI student who called 911 and a weekend instructor at OCI
KOIN 6 News and KOIN.com will continue to follow this trial.