PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Detective Anthony Merrill said he and Detective Darren Posey from the Portland Police Bureau “worked our butts off” while investigating the murder of Chef Daniel Brophy.
Merrill continued testifying in the sixth day of the Nancy Crampton Brophy murder trial Tuesday. This is the second time Merrill has taken the stand in the trial and his testimony began Monday afternoon.
Crampton Brophy is charged with murder in the killing of her husband, Daniel Brophy, at the Oregon Cullinary Institute in Portland on June 2, 2018. Her trial began April 4.
Merrill was the only witness on the stand Tuesday morning and will continue testifying during prosecutors’ redirect examination Tuesday afternoon.
Early in the day, Merrill picked up where he left off Monday evening. He reiterated that Crampton Brophy’s account of what she did the morning of Daniel’s death was consistent and detailed. She did not contradict herself.
During detectives’ death notification with Crampton Brophy at the crime scene June 2, 2018, they recorded their conversation with her. At the time, she said she hadn’t slept well the night before and woke up at around 6:45 a.m. while Daniel was using the upstairs shower near her bedroom. She said when he got out of the shower, she asked him to look at a leak under the sink and that he left the house at around 7:05 or 7:10 a.m.
Crampton Brophy mentioned she and Daniel had purchased a handgun, but said they never used it and didn’t want to keep it. She said it sat unused on a shelf in a closet.
Detectives offered to help drive Crampton Brophy home after breaking the news of her husband’s death to her because she was upset. The trip to her home would also allow them to look at the gun she’d mentioned. Merrill said he saw that she was driving a gray Toyota Sienna minivan.
At that time, Merrill said Crampton Brophy was absolutely not being considered as a suspect in her husband’s death.
“At that point, what we considered Miss Crampton Brophy was a grieving spouse that just learned her husband had been brutally murdered by a handgun,” Merrill said.
However, what he saw when he was reviewing surveillance video from the area soon after she left surprised him. In a security camera video from the Bellagios Pizza near the Oregon Culinary Institute, Merrill saw what he believed to be Crampton Brophy’s minivan. It looked like a gray Toyota and he said the person driving it looked like Crampton Brophy — an older woman with short, gray hair.
“We were shocked because we’re thinking maybe there’s something wrong with the time and this is just when she first, when she came down to get notified. Maybe the time is not correct and we need to figure this out,” he said.
However, the time was correct. The time shown on the camera was three hours ahead, east coast time, but Merrill was able to confirm this and saw that the van passed the store at 7:28 a.m. that day.
When he went back further in the video, he saw the same van also passed the store at 7:08 a.m. Crampton Brophy had not mentioned being in the area near OCI earlier that morning.
That’s when Merrill asked the detectives who accompanied Crampton Brophy home to take pictures of her minivan. He said it did resemble the one in the video and there was a distinguishable scrape on the van above the driver’s side rear wheel.
Other surveillance videos detectives collected from businesses in the area also showed the van.
Video from KGW showed the van parked in front of the news station from 7:01 a.m. to 7:07 a.m. before it drove away. Merrill said no one entered or exited the vehicle during that time. The van was then seen driving past several businesses surrounding OCI between 7:07 a.m. and 7:09 a.m.
The next time the van is visible on surveillance video is at 7:28 a.m. The Goose Hollow camera captured it pulling out from the corner where OCI was located. The van traveled south on Southwest 17th Avenue, then turned right onto Southwest Jefferson Street and headed toward Highway 26.
Investigators believe Daniel was killed shortly after 7:22 a.m., when he disarmed the alarm system at OCI.
When defense attorney Lisa Maxfield had an opportunity to question Merrill, she asked if detectives had interviewed Crampton Brophy again between August 22, 2018 and the day of her arrest, September 5, 2018. Merrill said they had discussed a second interview, but it had never taken place.
The defense then showed Merrill a series of security videos that were taken near OCI the morning of Daniel’s murder. Maxfield asked Merrill if he’d identified all of the people seen in the videos. He said he believed one person in one video, a man who was carrying around a recycling bin, was Oscar Taylor and that detectives interviewed him. Merrill said he believed Taylor was also involved in a hostile situation that took place at a nearby non-profit on June 2.
Merrill said detectives had ruled Taylor out as a suspect because he was seen on video walking away from OCI and was not close enough to the school at the time of the crime.
He did not know who any of the other people were who were seen on surveillance cameras that morning and said police had not been able to identify or contact them.
Maxfield asked Merrill about a few contradictions between the notes he took during the interview with Taylor and Detective Posey’s official report. She said Merrill’s notes state that Taylor said, “Lots of crazy guys down there [near OCI] carry guns,” but that the report left off the part about carrying guns and just said, “Lots of crazy guys down there.”
Merrill said he and other detectives spent days at OCI continuing their investigation and they never heard from any student, instructor or civilian witness that Taylor was suspected of committing the murder or that he was carrying a handgun.
“I feel like we went the extra mile on this investigation. I feel like we worked our butts off on this investigation,” Merrill said. “We were searching for information about anybody and everybody.”