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Romance author charged with killing chef husband

A self-published Oregon romance novelist who has written several books -- including one titled “The Wrong Husband” -- has been charged with shooting her husband to death at the culinary school where he taught. 

Nancy Crampton Brophy, 68, was arrested Wednesday at her Beaverton home. Portland police officials said she is charged with murder and unlawful use of a weapon. 

The charges stem from the death of Daniel C. Brophy, 63, who was found shot June 2 at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland. Students and staff arriving for class found him and called 911

Daniel Brophy died at the scene, police officials said

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Details of what led police to suspect Nancy Brophy in her husband’s slaying were not available. KOIN 6 News in Portland reported that a judge ordered the probable cause affidavit in the case to remain sealed while the investigation is ongoing. 

Nancy Brophy notified Facebook friends and family of her husband’s death the day after it happened. 

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

She said she knew those close to her deserved a phone call about the shooting, but said she was “struggling to make sense of everything right now.” She told them about a candlelight vigil scheduled for the following night at the school. 

Neighbors of the couple told The Oregonian that Nancy Brophy had what they considered an odd reaction to her husband’s homicide. 

“She never showed any signs of being upset or sad,” Don McConnell, a neighbor for six years, told the newspaper. “I would say she had an air of relief, like it was almost a godsend.”

McConnell also spoke to KOIN, who he told that he “got the nerve” to broach the subject of the investigation with the widow over the summer. He said he asked if investigators were keeping in touch with her. 

“She said, ‘No, I’m out of the loop,’ and I said, ‘What do you mean?’” McConnell said. “And she said, ‘They consider me a suspect.’”

Friends and family expressed disbelief that Nancy Brophy could be responsible for her husband’s death. According to KGW8 in Portland, the couple had been married for 26 years. 

“I’ve known her for 30 years,” friend Tania Medlin told the news station. “I can’t imagine. I just don’t think she’s capable.”

Heather Kinnett, who identified herself as Nancy Brophy’s niece, wrote on a Facebook page established in his memory that her aunt could not have committed the crime. 

“I am terribly saddened and angered by her arrest and false accusation of having murdered Dan for many reasons, not the least of which being the thought that they have stopped looking for the person or persons who did murder Dan,” Kinnett wrote. “Nancy did not commit this horrendous crime. Dan was the love of her life. They had a happy marriage, with a lot of laughter, a lot of great food and a lot of ‘Brophy-isms,’ and there is nothing Nancy would value more than their life together that would cause her to have taken his life and left her own with this giant gaping hole.”

Students of Daniel Brophy also expressed shock over the fact that his wife is suspecting of killing the beloved teacher. 

“Never in a million years we thought it would be his wife,” former student Travis Richartz told KOIN. “We thought a former student or someone had it out against him.”

Richartz told the news station that Nancy Brophy attended a candlelight vigil in her husband’s honor and wept as she told stories about him. 

“The fact that she was there, knowing that she may have committed the crime, is kind of sickening, that she would even show up at the place,” he said. 

Oregon Culinary Institute officials described the faculty member’s violent death as a ‘senseless act.”

“Dan Brophy was an outstanding and caring culinary professional and educator,” a post on the school’s Facebook page read. “The thousands of students who were fortunate enough to call him ‘their instructor’ loved and respected him for giving them his utmost best. Our community is in shock and we are grieving the loss of an amazing human being, friend and chef.”

School officials said support for the slain chef was “incredible” and a testament to all that he accomplished in his lifetime. 

“We will continue to honor his memory by doing what we do best, and that is educating future culinary professionals to carry the baton and make Dan proud,” the post read

A longtime colleague, Eric Stromquist, wrote that Dan Brophy was a one-of-a-kind human being who was “brilliant, generous and wickedly funny with a gruff demeanor, but a heart of gold.” He said that, while not everyone might appreciate Brophy’s sense of humor like he did, everyone appreciated his intelligence, knowledge and passion for teaching. 

“When you walked into his classroom you knew that you were going to be challenged, and perhaps embarrassed if unprepared, but you also knew you were going to walk out richer, smarter and more skilled,” Stromquist wrote

Daniel Brophy’s former students, who established the Remembering Daniel Brophy page, recalled his humor in some of his “Brophy-isms”:

“You can eat any  mushroom once.”

“Any job will go faster if you don’t do it slow.”

“Every time you put plastic in the compost bin, a butterfly loses its wings. Go apologize to Mother Nature.”

“Please don’t curse at the eggs. They’re sensitive. They lack connective tissue.”

“How many questions are on the final? Just as many as necessary.”

“Try going vegetarian for a month. I recommend February because it’s the shortest month.”

“They say rosemary tea improves your memory, but I forgot the recipe.”

“My last meal? Probably a PB&J sandwich from my pocket when I get lost mushroom foraging. I’ll just curl up by a log and they’ll find me in the spring.”

“There’s always a chance for humor at any point.”

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On her website, Nancy Brophy said her husband’s mantra was, “Life is a science project.” She credited him with the chickens and turkeys in their backyard, a vegetable garden and a hot meal every night. 

“I can’t tell you when I fell in love with my husband, but I relate the moment I decided to marry him,” Brophy wrote. “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?”

She described her stories as being 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.”

One of those stories is the novel “The Wrong Husband,” a part of Brophy’s “Wrong Never Felt So Right” series

The book’s plot involves the abused wife of a senator who fakes her death on a cruise and is then hunted by a private, paramilitary organization hired to find her body so her husband can collect the insurance money. 

She is also sought by a handsome man hired by the insurance company to prove foul play in her death, the description on Amazon.com reads

The self-published book was put out in October 2015. It has one customer review on Amazon.

Brophy is being held at the Multnomah County Jail. Court records show that her next court date is Sept. 17. 

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