Romance novelist Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy arrested for the shooting death of her husband Daniel Brophy: a possible motive

“Escape into a book with rugged men, strong women and a good story.

Nancy Brophy”


Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy

– Romance novelist Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy on June 3, 2017, announced on Facebook the murder of her husband with this statement:

Note her priority, she mentioned her “facebook friends” before her “family”. Note that, after she gave the sad news with a complete social introduction, she focused on herself: “close to me”, “I’m struggling”, “I appreciate”, “I’m overwhelmed” and “I can function”. 

Note that the day after her husband’s murder she felt the need to add “best friend” and “Chef” to his social introduction. Both words are unnecessary but she felt the need to clarify that he was not only her “husband”, he was her “best friend” too and that she respected his role as “Chef”, this is sensitive.

Moreover, her husband was killed, she had the right not only not to answer the phone and not to call anybody but also the right not to write anything on Facebook; the reason for her words was her need to ingratiate herself with her “facebook friends and family” and to fish for sympathy.

Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy, 68, was arrested on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at her Washington County home for the shooting death of her husband Daniel Brophy, 63.

Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy (Multnomah County, Oregon, Sheriff’s office)

Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy appeared on court in a blue jail uniform on Thursday September 6 for the arraignment. As she showed up she tried to make eye contact with her lawyer and she once smiled at her. She appeared emotionless as the judge listed the charges against her.

Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy is seen during a court appearance in Multnomah County, Oregon, on Sept. 6, 2018 (KOIN-TV)

Daniel Brophy was shot to death on Saturday June 2, 2018, inside the Oregon Culinary Institute in downtown Portland, where he worked since 2006. Police was alerted around 8:30 a.m. by students and staff who found the deadly injured Chef inside a kitchen of the school.

According with his students, Chef Dan Brophy’s favorite sentences were “Everything is edible… once”“Everytime you burn bacon, an angel gets herpes” and “It wouldn’t take so long if you didn’t do it so slowly”.

Chef Daniel Brophy

– On June 4, 2018, Chef Daniel Brophy was honoured by hundreds during a candle-light vigil at the Oregon Culinary Institute. During the vigil his wife Nancy spoke briefly: “Dan was one of the few people I’ve ever known who did exactly what he wanted in life and loved doing it. He was a person who did what he loved: he loved teaching, he loved mushrooms, he lov… (smile) he loved his family, he loved (unintelligible). Not only was life a science experiment, but sometimes it was an adventure”.

Note that she refers to him as “Dan” and as “a person”, gender neutral, not as “my husband”. Note that on her post on Facebook, the day after the murder, while she was fishing for sympathy, she wrote “My husband and best friend, Chef Dan Brophy”.

Note that when Nancy says “He was a person who did what he loved: he loved teaching, he loved mushrooms, he loved his family” she speaks about his priority or, more correctly, of her idea of his priority; note that Nancy believes that he loved “teaching” and “mushrooms” more than his “family”. This is subtle victim blaming. This could have something to do with her motive for murder.

Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy’s picture on her blog

– Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy has a website where she represent herself with these words:

Writers are liars. 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. Granted, sometimes it is smarter to change the ending. That being said, let me add, this photo is a lie. I haven’t looked like this for a while. But it is me.

I grew up reading and writing. My first published work was a pamphlet for the University of Houston entitled Between Your Navel And Your Knees. I’ll leave to figure out the subject matter.

I love story-telling. My imaginary friends have rich, larger-than-life lives encompassed in a few hundred pages with definite beginnings, snappy middles, and above all, happy endings. My personal life is never as clearly defined. Beginnings are hard to locate. A new job, a school term, a family event like a death or a wedding might signal the start of something new, but it’s never heralded with any fanfare other than another link in the chain.

I live in the beautiful, green, and very wet, Northwest, married to a Chef whose mantra is: life is a science project. As a result there are chickens and turkeys in my backyard, a fabulous vegetable garden which also grows tobacco for an insecticide and a hot meal on the table every night. For those of you who have longed for this, let me caution you. The old adage is true. Be careful what you wish for, when the gods are truly angry, they grant us our wishes.

And the payment is always high, I fight an insidious ten pounds every year of my life. I can’t tell you when I fell in love with my husband, but I relate the moment I decided to marry him. I was in the bath. It was a big tub. I expected him to join me and when he was delayed, I called out, “Are you coming?”. His answer convinced me he was Mr. Right. “Yes, but I’m making hors d’oeuvres”. Can you imagine spending the rest of your life without a man like that?

Like all marriages, we’ve had our ups and downs, more good times than bad. Most recently we have spent fourteen nail-biting months living in an apartment while our house was rebuilt from a house-fire. In the process, I have acquired an in-depth knowledge of kitchen cabinets, bathroom plumbing fixtures and leaking roofs. If this writing thing doesn’t work out, I plan to investigate becoming a contractor who specializes in on-time, under-budget remodels. Believe me there is a fortune to be made by the builder who can deliver on his promises.

My stories are about pretty men and strong women, about families that don’t always work and about the joy of finding love and the difficulty of making it stay”.

Note that Nancy is telling us that his husband’s priority has always been to cook. In the early stages of their relationship he made her waiting alone in the big tub because he was preparing “hors d’oeuvres”.


– According with The Oregonian/Oregonlive, Nancy Brophy wrote an essay titled “How to Murder Your Husband” which was published on the blog See Jane Publish on Nov. 4, 2011:

“As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure. After all, if the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail. And let me say clearly for the record, I don’t like jumpsuits and orange isn’t my color.


1) Financial (this is big): Divorce is expensive, and do you really want to split your possessions? Or if you married for money, aren’t you entitled to all of it? The draw back is the police aren’t stupid. They are looking at you first. So you have to be organized, ruthless and very clever. Husbands have disappeared from cruise ships before. Why not yours?

2) Lying, cheating bastard (deception of any sort): This is a crime of passion. In anger, you bash his head in or stab him with a kitchen knife. Most of the time there is a trail that leads directly to you. Each type of murder leaves clues. A crime of passion does not look like a stranger was involved. And who is left to clean the blood from your carpeting?

3) Fell in love with someone else (usually financial is also involved here): Let’s say your Church frowns on divorce. You need to be a widow so you won’t fall out of favor with your religion. At this point, I should mention that it helps if you aren’t too burdened by the 10 commandments.

4) Abuser: This one is tough. Anybody can claim abuse. What is abuse? To a teenager, it might look different than to a spouse. As a motivation, this reason usually comes up after you’ve been arrested. Not a lot of abused wives dial 911 upon burning down the house with their husband in it.

5) It’s your profession: Now we’re talking. You already possess both skill and knowledge. You have the moral ambiguity necessary to carry it off. Quick hit and you fade from the scene. Get your payment upfront from someone else, because life insurance probably won’t send a check.

Options to consider:

Guns – loud, messy, require some skill. If it takes 10 shots for the sucker to die, either you have terrible aim or he’s on drugs.

Knives – really personal and close up. Blood everywhere. Eww.

Garrote – how much upper body strength does it require to strangle a person?

Random heavy piece of equipment – usually this involves hitting someone hard with the baseball bat or the pipe wrench you just happen to have in your hand.

Poison – considered a woman’s weapon. Arsenic is easy to obtain, worse, easy to trace. It takes a month or two to kill someone. Plus, they are sick the entire time. Who wants to hang out with a sick husband? Knowledge of pharmaceuticals would be handy. Availability would be even better. A word of caution, watch out for poisons found in nature. They are not a sure thing. Too little? Too much? Your mother always told you to marry a doctor. Now you know why.

Hiring a hit man – Do you know a hit man? Neither do I. And an amazing number of hit men rat you out to the police. Or blackmail you later.

Hiring a lover – Never a good idea. The husband dies, and the wife gets the money. The lover doesn’t always win in this scenario. Sometimes he, too, finds himself facing a loaded gun.

I find it is easier to wish people dead than to actually kill them. I don’t want to worry about blood and brains splattered on my walls. And really, I’m not good at remembering lies. But the thing I know about murder is that every one of us have it in him/her when pushed far enough.

What constitutes a good romantic suspense is the whys? What happened that forced a person into this situation? How will they justify this action? (By the way, he needed killing is not a legal defense.) Can they keep a secret? A confidence whispered in the dark is no longer secret.

What if killing didn’t produce the right results? Would they do it again? Could they do it again? What if they liked it?

Whoa, there’s an idea for a new story”.

Note that she speaks for herself when she says “if the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail. And let me say clearly for the record, I don’t like jumpsuits”. 

To kill her husband was an obsession for years.

Here her post on Facebook about writing the article “How to murder your husband”:

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 18.17.21

– According to People magazine, she also said in an interview with the blog Romancing the Genres in 2012: “Murder, mayhem and gore seem to come naturally to me. Which means my husband has learned to sleep with one eye open”.


– Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy wrote a book series called “the wrong series”: The Wrong Brother, The Wrong Cop, The Wrong Hero, The Wrong Lover, The Wrong Husband, The Wrong Seal.

Take a look at her book covers:


– In 2015 Nancy Lee Crampton-Brophy wrote this article on her blog:

“Consider The Lilies 

Consider the lilies, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27

I’ve always loved the idea that it is possible to exist without toil and worry. But in my life I’ve never found it to be true.  

For years I had a different quote hanging in my office: The middle of anything always looks like failure. 

Which was to remind myself that while I continually seek instant gratification, it is more important to be working than to sit idle (inattivi) hoping good things will come.

Because I am a selfish being, sometimes when good happens, I don’t take the time to celebrate. Instead I look ahead like a small child at Christmas eager for the next present. 

This year I declared I would publish twelve books. In truth, it is kicking my ass. Fortunately for me, writing is a solitary profession and only my immediate family and a few good friends have seen me ride the roller coast of emotions from high to low and back again.

I’m not going to publish my to-do list. It exhausts me to contemplate the unending column that even if I finished doing each and everyone, tomorrow, more would appear. However, I will say every time I’m able to cross another line item off, it is a small victory. 

I’m half-way through the year, running a month behind on my publishing goal – not that anyone is counting but me. But I’ve had some small successes that I need to celebrate:

1) Romantic times gave me a great review for “The Wrong Hero”:

This is a fine mystery that reads a lot like a TV show, with the right blend of humor and suspense, along with a strong, independent female lead and the sexy alpha who loves her. The plot itself was somewhat complicated, but the sizzling heat Travis and his brothers bring to the table more than makes up for it.  

2) “The Wrong Hero” is going to be published in an Anthology.

3) My new cover for “The Wrong Lover” is about to come out.

4) My friend, Lynn Jordon, who is an amazing woman, promotes romance books on Facebook, I love Romance Books and writes an informative blog on Author Tools Blog. In her spare time, she created some advertising images to help promo my books.

5) And Amazon is giving “Hell On The Heart” away for free. 

While I know life moves at its own pace, it is nice to think that while I haven’t made things happen, I have created an opportunity for things to happen”.


For a “selfish being” who rides “the roller coast of emotions from high to low and back again” to come after “teaching” and “mushrooms” could be a motive for murder and, as she wrote, “anybody can claim abuse”.

On September 17, 2018, at her murder arraignment, Nancy Brophy pleaded not guilty.

Note Nancy Trophy’s words: “You’re arresting me? You must think I murdered my husband“.

“I murdered my husband” is an embedded admission.


Ursula Franco, MD and criminologist