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Man’s death was a murder mystery — until his romance novelist wife’s arrest, Oregon cops say

Portland, Oregon, romance novelist Nancy Crampton-Brophy, 68, faces murder charges after police said she shot and killed her husband, a chef and teacher at the Oregon Culinary Institute.
Portland, Oregon, romance novelist Nancy Crampton-Brophy, 68, faces murder charges after police said she shot and killed her husband, a chef and teacher at the Oregon Culinary Institute. Portland Police Department

Daniel Brophy, a 63-year-old chef and teacher, was shot to death at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland in early June, according to police.

For months, the circumstance around Brophy’s death — who did it and why? — remained a mystery to the public. Neighbors of Brophy even went to his widow, 68-year-old romance novelist Nancy Crampton-Brophy, to share their theories about his untimely death, the Oregonian reports.

“It sounded to me more like a disgruntled student who had a thing with your husband,” neighbor Don McConnell said he told Crampton-Brophy, according to the Oregonian. “I said, ‘Are they [the police] keeping in touch with you?’ ”

Crampton-Brophy gave McConnell a candid response, the newspaper reports: “She said ‘No, I’m a suspect’ ”

Now Crampton-Brophy is more than a suspect: She was arrested on murder and unlawful weapon use charges on Wednesday at her home in Washington County, Oregon, just west of Portland, police said. She’s being held at the Multnomah County Jail and was arraigned Thursday.

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Romance titles written by Crampton-Brophy include “The Wrong Husband,” “The Wrong Lover” and “The Wrong Cop,” according to her author website. A graphic promoting “The Wrong Husband” on Crampton-Brophy’s website asks: “How far can you run? How long can you hide?” An image advertising “The Wrong Cop” asks: “What if the police were eyeing you with suspicion? Who would be in your corner?”

Crampton-Brophy’s husband had been working late at the culinary institute before he was found dead around 8:30 a.m. on June 2, attendees at a vigil commemorating him said, according to the Portland Tribune.

Crampton-Brophy herself spoke at the vigil.

“Dan was one of the very few people I’ve known that knew exactly what he wanted in life and loved doing it,” Crampton-Brophy told those gathered to remember her husband, according to KATU.

On Facebook after the shooting, Crampton-Brophy asked for privacy.

“For my facebook friends and family, I have sad news to relate,” Crampton-Brophy wrote June 3. “My husband and best friend, Chef Dan Brophy was killed yesterday morning.”

Crampton-Brophy also apologized for not making phone calls to let loved ones know about her husband’s death.

“I’m struggling to make sense of everything right now,” Crampton-Brophy wrote. “While I appreciate all of your loving responses, I am overwhelmed. Please save phone calls for a few days until I can function.”

Crampton-Brophy wrote on her website that her relationship with her husband was “Like all marriages, we’ve had our ups and downs, more good times than bad.”

She also opined on the nature of writers.

“Writers are liars,” the website’s author page reads. “I don’t remember who said that but it’s not true. In writing fiction, you dig deep and unearth portions of your own life that you’ve long forgotten or had purposely buried deep.”

The victim’s family said they were “in shock” over the arrest, ABC reports.

“We are just stunned,” said Brophy’s mother, Karen Brophy, ABC reports.

But Crampton-Brophy’s family is more dubious about the charges.

“None of us believe it,” said Crampton-Brophy’s sister, Holly Crampton, according to ABC. “It’s craziness and it’s just not true.”

McConnell, the neighbor, said Crampton-Brophy betrayed little emotion when the two conversed after her husband’s death, the Oregonian reports.

“I thought she must have been one tough woman to handle that the way she did,” McConnell said, according to the newspaper.

Though there is no single profile for school shooters, people at risk for hurting themselves or others often exhibit warning signs before committing acts of violence. Knowing the signs can help prevent crimes and get people the help they need.

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