PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The shocking murder of a chef at the Oregon Culinary Institute turned more shocking when his wife — a romance novelist who wrote a 2011 essay titled “How to Murder Your Husband” — was charged with killing him in an allegedly premeditated act.

Now, more than 3 years after Daniel Brophy was killed on June 2, 2018, the trial of Nancy Crampton Brophy is set to begin. The novelist, who was 68 when she was arraigned on September 17, 2018, has been behind bars since her arrest.

Her trial was originally set to begin in October 2018, but legal motions, various lawsuits and the pandemic all worked to push the trial date back to now. Opening arguments are expected to begin at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Previous KOIN coverage: The Nancy Crampton Brophy Case

The trial, set to be held in Multnomah County Circuit Court, has attracted the attention of media around the country, including CourtTV. It’s unclear how long the trial will last. Judge Christopher Ramras will preside.

KOIN.com will live stream the trial and provide coverage each day.

The case

Daniel Brophy was found shot to death by students arriving at the Oregon Culinary Institute on the morning of June 2, 2018.

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Daniel Brophy in an undated photograph (Courtesy to KOIN)

Students said Brophy, 63, was “larger than life,” had “knowledge beyond belief” and was “the spirit of the Oregon Culinary Institute.”

“He was a friend to everybody out of the school,” former student Travis Richartz said. “Holding stuff on the weekends to help you learn more, taking you mushroom foraging to teaching how to properly raise a chicken from start to finish.”

Investigators did not arrest anyone right away. Then 3 months later, on September 5, Nancy Crampton Brophy was arrested and charged with the murder of her husband.

Crampton Brophy has published a number of books, including “The Wrong Series” –The Wrong Cop, The Wrong Husband, The Wrong Seal, The Wrong Lover, The Wrong Hero, plus other titles such as “Hell on the Heart” and “The Girl Most Likely To.”

In that 2011 essay, she listed 5 motives for murdering your husband.

Court documents unsealed in 2019

The following is a summary of the probable cause document filed when
Nancy Crampton Brophy was arrested:

On June 2, 2018, Daniel left home, got to work, disarmed the alarm at 7:21 a.m. and was the only person at the Oregon Culinary Institute.

Thirteen minutes before the alarm is disabled, Nancy is seen on surveillance video driving her Toyota minivan directly in front of OCI. At 7:28 a.m., Nancy is again seen leaving the area of OCI, both times headed west.

Documents revealed investigators found the surveillance video from nearby Bellagio’s Pizza.

One of Daniel’s co-workers arrived at 7:30 a.m., but didn’t find his body in the rear kitchen until she let students come inside at 8 a.m.

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Nancy Brophy and her husband Daniel Brophy (KOIN, file)

Daniel was shot twice, once in the back and once in the chest. Both bullets — likely from a Glock 9mm handgun — pierced his heart and either could have been the fatal shot, the medical examiner said.

Investigators determined there was no sign of force or struggle, nor were there signs of robbery. Daniel still had all his personal items — wallet, cell phone, glasses, car keys — on his body.

Shortly after detectives arrived at the scene, Nancy Brophy also arrived in the same Toyota minivan. She said she had been home all morning and left when she got the call about an incident at OCI. She also said she couldn’t think of anyone who would want to hurt him.

Nancy told detectives she recently bought a Glock 9mm handgun but neither one of them ever used it. When detectives retrieved that gun, they determined it was not the weapon used to kill Daniel.

About 3 days later, Nancy asked for a letter from detectives stating she was not a suspect so she could give it to their life insurance company, and said Daniel’s policy was valued at $40,000.

Detectives did not give her that letter and later learned Nancy is the beneficiary on several insurance policies with a total value of more than $350,000. They also learned Nancy had worked in and sold life insurance policies in the past.

Nancy Brophy attends a hearing as her attorneys argue for her release, citing virus concerns. April 28, 2020. (KOIN)
Nancy Brophy attends a hearing as her attorneys argue for her release, citing virus concerns. April 28, 2020. (KOIN)

During the ensuing investigation, detectives looked at Daniel’s phone and found the married couple had a joint iTunes account. One of the bookmarked articles in that joint account was called, “10 ways to cover up a murder.”

In that iTunes bookmark was a suggestion that the best time to commit a crime is in the very early hours of the day when most people are asleep.

When she was arrested on September 5, 2018, Nancy said, “You must think I murdered my husband.”

Investigators said she never offered an explanation about why she lied about where she was on the morning of the murder, nor did she say anything about the life insurance money.