Nancy Crampton-Brophy

Lifetime airs movie about Portland novelist-turned murderer Nancy Brophy

PORTLAND, Ore. — The lurid story of a Portland romance novelist who murdered her husband in 2018 comes to the small screen this weekend on the Lifetime channel.

The trial of 71-year-old Nancy Crampton Brophy was one of the most captivating Portland news stories of 2022. At the conclusion of the seven-week proceedings, a jury found Brophy guilty of second-degree murder. In June, she was sentenced to life in prison.

Nancy Brophy was accused of shooting and killing her husband, 63-year-old chef Dan Brophy, inside the now-closed Oregon Culinary Institute at Southwest 17th Avenue and Jefferson Street on June 2, 2018.

Dan Brophy was an instructor at the institute, and several of his students discovered his body when they arrived for classes that morning.

The case gained national attention after Nancy Brophy’s arrest, when it was discovered that she had written an online essay titled “How to Murder Your Husband” years before the murder. The essay did not actually factor into the trial, however, as it was swiftly excluded from evidence.

Instead, the trial hinged on Nancy Brophy’s activities immediately surrounding her husband’s death — her purchases of gun parts that were never accounted for, surveillance video placing her in the area of the Oregon Culinary Institute around the time of Dan’s murder, and initial statements she made to investigators that she’d been home all that morning. An insurance expert also testified that Dan Brophy’s life insurance policy was “inappropriately” high.

Nancy Brophy’s replies to prosecutors’ suspicions about her activities often followed a familiar pattern: She was just doing research for her romance novels.

Lifetime’s dramatization of the story, dubbed “How to Murder Your Husband: The Nancy Brophy Story” stars Cybill Shepherd as Nancy Brophy and Steve Guttenberg as Dan Brophy.

“Based on a true story, Nancy Crampton-Brophy (Cybill Shepherd), seemed to have a knack for writing about murder,” Lifetime’s abstract reads. “The Portland-based romance-thriller novelist authored books about relationships that were tumultuous, while using seductive men on the covers to lure in her readers. Often, her books featured women protagonists who fantasized about killing their own husbands or fleeing their husbands and faking their own deaths. And then, in 2022 in a shocking turn of events, Brophy was convicted of killing her own husband.”

The movie premieres Saturday, Jan. 14 on Lifetime at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. Central. It’s available to stream the following day.

Skip to content