PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – With a stiff upper lip, Nancy Crampton Brophy was not one to show emotion in public – even after her husband was found fatally shot inside the Oregon Culinary Institute, family members close to her said. 

Witnesses who testified for the prosecution suggested Nancy, who’s accused of murdering her husband Daniel Brophy at the Oregon Culinary Institute on June 2, 2018, was not grieving in a traditional manner.

Family members close to her say she was good at keeping her composure in public, but broke down multiple times in the privacy of her home. 

Those family members who testified in court Monday shared their experiences with Nancy before and after her husband was murdered. 

Monday marked the 16th day of Nancy’s murder trial. 

The following witnesses testified in court Monday:

  • Tom Bethel, former director of the Oregon Culinary Institute 
  • Sarah Gitchell, Nancy’s niece 
  • Vicki Schmall, hired Daniel and Nancy to give cooking demonstrations 
  • Janet Brown, Nancy’s cousin 
  • Rita Hood, Nancy’s friend from the University of Houston 
  • Lydia Dennehy, worked for Nancy’s catering company 
  • John Lenz, owns an insurance agency and is a financial planner 

Here are six takeaways from the 16th day of the trial: 

Nancy was like a second mother 

Nancy’s niece Sarah Gitchell testified Monday saying that when she became estranged from her own mother in 2014, her Aunt Nancy stepped in to fill the void. 

Together, the two would talk about politics, their marriages and things that concerned them. They both lived in Portland and would hold family get-togethers. 

Gitchell said Nancy didn’t shy away from dark topics or hard conversations, and that’s what made her a good confidante. 

“Nancy was somebody that I really leaned on, for support in dealing with those issues with my parents,” Gitchell said. 

She said Nancy had a way of reminding her everything would be OK, even if it didn’t feel like it at the moment. 

Nancy Crampton Brophy Trial Day 16
From left to right, Madeline Loeb, Nicole Hermann, and Shawn Overstreet, prosecutors in the Nancy Crampton Brophy murder trial speak to a witness testifying virtually on May 9, 2022. (KOIN)

“I remember the last thing Dan said” 

Gitchell said about a week before Daniel was murdered, she and her husband hosted a birthday party for their son and the Brophys attended. 

Gitchell said whenever her husband cooked for Daniel, who was a chef, he was always a bit nervous because he wanted to impress him. At the end of the night, Gitchell said Daniel’s parting words meant a great deal to her husband. 

“I remember the last thing Dan said as they were leaving, and it ended up being the last thing he said to us. My husband had made pulled pork for us to eat, which was sort of like his signature dish, and as they were leaving, Dan turned and said, ‘Good pork,’ which you know, for him was a huge compliment,” Gitchell said, crying as she shared the memory. 

At the time, neither of them knew that would be the last time they spoke to Daniel before he died. 

Nancy also cried as she heard Gitchell recount this moment in court. 

Nancy asked people to contact the police 

Gitchell said that for a few days after Daniel’s death, Nancy didn’t seem to care if police found the person who killed her husband. She said even if they found the person, it wouldn’t bring Daniel back to life. 

But at Daniel’s memorial service, Nancy’s message changed. She gave an emotional speech, Gitchell said, and was begging anyone who might know something about what happened to call the police. 

At one point, Gitchell said Nancy told her that she assumed she was a suspect because the spouse is always someone investigators consider in a murder. 

Daniel’s messiness was Nancy’s only complaint 

Like others who have testified during the trial, Gitchell agreed that the Brophys seemed to have a happy, admirable marriage. She said she and Nancy would occasionally complain to each other about their marriages, but said Nancy’s problems never seemed very large. 

Gitchell said the only complaint that really ever came up was Nancy would complain about Daniel’s messiness. Although this was repeatedly an issue, Gitchell said it never seemed like something Nancy was considering ending her marriage over. 

“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,’” Gitchell said. 

She said the two always seemed to come to compromises easily whenever they disagreed. 

Nancy seemed numb after Daniel’s death 

Janet Brown, Nancy’s cousin, came to visit a couple months after Daniel’s death, in August 2018. Janet said she and her cousin became very close throughout their lives and when she saw Nancy after Daniel’s death, she could tell she wasn’t herself. 

“She had trouble focusing. She had trouble making decisions, sometimes minor decisions,” Brown said. “There was a sense that even though we were in the room together, that she wasn’t – she was easily distracted, let me put it that way.” 

Brown, who’s a psychotherapist, said Nancy seemed numb. She lacked her regular sense of humor and sarcasm and Brown saw her fight back tears a number of times. 

Before Daniel died, Brown said it would be very unusual for Nancy to not be engaged during a social situation with someone. 

Brown said the last time she spoke to Nancy before Daniel’s death was in 2017, but that Nancy sounded like herself in an email exchange in May 2018. 

Daniel was adequately insured 

The defense called John Lenz, the owner of an insurance agency and a financial planner, as an expert witness to discuss the life insurance coverage Daniel had in place at the time of his death. 

Nancy Crampton Brophy Trial Day 16
Judge Christopher Ramras listens to testimony at the Nancy Crampton Brophy murder trial on May 9, 2022. (KOIN)

The prosecution has at times suggested the life insurance coverage was excessive and suggested the Brophys continued to pay too much for their policies as they fell behind on their mortgage. 

However, Lenz said he felt the life insurance coverage the Brophys had on Daniel was adequate. 

Lenz explained to the court what factors should be taken into consideration when someone purchases life insurance. He said oftentimes life insurance is purchased to ensure one’s family is taken care of after their death. Usually, a person will think about covering their salary to support their household and then having enough life insurance to cover any remaining debts. 

For someone of Daniel’s age, Lenz said most life insurance companies will cover up to 10 times a person’s income. For Daniel’s income, Lenz averaged it to be about $60,000. Ten times that would be $600,000. Add an additional $250,000 for the outstanding mortgage balance, and Lenz suggested Daniel should be insured for at least $800,000 – and Daniel did in fact have a little more than $800,000 in life insurance coverage. 

A defense attorney asked Lenz if a family were experiencing financial hardships, would he recommend life insurance premiums be the first thing they cut? Lenz said no, because if those people were to try to purchase identical plans at a later date, the premium price would likely increase. He’d recommend cutting other expenses out of their lifestyle first.