Sunday, January 29, 2012

Betty Broderick

Betty Broderick is one of those rare murderers for whom I feel a twinge of empathy.

These are usually women who have been abandoned and driven crazy by former husbands. I mean men who appear to have done this not unintentionally, but with a callous disregard which is tantamount to intent.

I remember when this case blew up so huge in the media and everybody seemed divided over what was the correct punishment for Broderick, who drove over to her ex-husband's house before sunrise one morning and pumped a few bullets in him and a few into his new trophy wife.

Then she pulled the phone cord out and left.

It would be very strange if her husband truly said, "You got me!" as his last words and held his palms out before him in a conciliatory "Go away, you killed me!" gesture. That's how he died according to Betty Broderick's testimony in court.

That reminds me of Quilty's death in that Nabokov novel.

I think she was lying though. And that was when she was testifying, when she was actually on the stand. I don't believe Dan Broderick said those words. That's a corny line, what a cartoon character says when he's shot. Who would actually say that if they'd just been shot full of holes and were lying there bleeding to death? Maybe he really said, "Oh God! Please call an ambulance!"

But Betty wouldn't admit that to the court, would she? It might make her look a lot less like a victim.

Admittedly, Dan Broderick wouldn't have been shouting out "Why?" as his last word.

Because he knew exactly why.

Betty Broderick had just been served the bazillionth set of legal papers (these were part of the custody war) and something in the tone of the papers had sent Broderick completely over the edge.

She had left countless threatening and humiliating messages on her ex's answering machine directed at him and his wife, and would even use very foul language to describe her kids' father to them on the phone (while she knew she was being recorded). Even when the kids would cry and beg her to stop using those words, she persisted.

Clearly, Broderick had become Medea. While she never fully sacrificed her children, she sacrificed their mental well-being--and it's possible she could have gone that next step if she had thought that would have hurt her ex more.

People who do the sorts of things Betty Broderick did often do go that extra step and kill children--when they find they have no other way to truly make the one who scorned them suffer.

In other words, they become monsters.

It's strange how fatalistic Dan Broderick was about his increasingly unstable ex. He hadn't had the security system repaired after Betty had damaged it when she rammed her vehicle into the front of his new house. This is why the victims never heard her enter the dwelling on the morning they were murdered.

By all accounts and by all evidence, he could play serious legal hardball and wasn't afraid to be Mr. Not So Nice Guy. He left his wife to replace her with a younger version of her. Since he couldn't roll back her odometer, he simply got a flashy new car.And the new bride showed no evidence of any empathy whatsoever for what Dan's ex was going through, which was clearly hell.

But that's not the entirety of his malfeasance.

He did pull a number of maneuvers in which he bankrolled about three-quarters of a million dollars by siphoning these off as "loans" to his brother (totally transparent sneak move). So these assets were not counted in the divorce settlement as they should have been.

He made sure she lost her house when almost any woman would have been entitled to keep the same. But Broderick had the misfortune of being divorced by a very powerful, rather devious attorney.

But let's be realistic. These are material things. This is money. And what ultimately happened is that lives were snuffed out. Children lost a parent. Both Dan Broderick and his new wife were stolen from all the people who loved them.

I think there were two problems here. Betty Broderick was mentally ill and refused to let go. And Dan Broderick decided the only way to handle his ex was to play cruel hardball. Neither of these facts necessarily had to lead to murder. This isn't necessarily a recipe for tragedy.

It was Betty Broderick's own actions which led to her losing custody of her children. You can't terrorize your kids, and constantly attack your ex vicariously through your children, and think a judge is going to think you're a trustworthy parent.

Dan Broderick was a powerful and well-regarded and well-connected attorney and it really looks like Betty Broderick's allegations are correct: that he schmoozed and she got treated unfairly and judges let him slide at every turn of this messy divorce.

Or maybe I'm exaggerating. If Betty had been able to focus more on what was best for her, instead of constantly trying to make her ex's life hell, she probably could have done much better in court.

But she didn't really give a damn about court. She was addicted to making Dan suffer. It had become like a drug to her.

She would leave messages saying that she was going to tell everyone what a drunk and what a worthless human being he had been "every year of his life."

So why want him back? And if she would have said she didn't want him back, then what the hell was she doing stalking him and his wife?

Most troubling of all are documents (never allowed into trial) that both Dan Broderick and his new wife had admitted they intended to drive Betty insane and they counted on her committing suicide. Well, this was alleged by Betty Broderick's attorney in the Aphrodite Jones documentary on Investigation Discovery, anyway. I haven't seen those "documents." Has anyone other than her attorney? I wonder if these might not have been flip, offhand comments scribbled in a notepad somewhere when someone's patience had worn thin. Possibly a bad joke someone made? (I was going to say "dashed off in an email" but I'm certain this was pre-internet.)

Her first trial ended in a hung jury. First, five jurors were refusing and wanted to acquit. Finally, they got it down to only two refusing to convict, but this pair wouldn't budge.

One of these two was interviewed and said if Dan Broderick had pulled the sort of things on him he had pulled with Betty Broderick, he would have been dead in a much shorter time than it took Betty to kill him. It's surprising to me that this was said by a man. I always thought women were more likely to see her as completely justified. Maybe I'm falling for stereotypes. Or maybe anyone who went through a similar situation with a messy breakup still deals with issues of buried rage.

Maybe Betty Broderick did what many people going through messy breakups once thought of doing, before they came back to sanity in the nick of time.

The individual who said this seemed like a pretty rational man. Scary, huh?

But let's come back to reality. It just means there was a creepy juror sitting on the case. Nobody should be advocating for murder.

That's part of the disturbing nature of this case. It seems to rattle so many people, to scramble our sense of clear judgment. Because we see the genuine pain and distress of Broderick. We see the wall that went up and how she drove herself crazy by running at that wall. Again and again.

But. I don't condone what she did.

Taking their father from her children, putting her children through hell, and the act of murder itself are unforgivable things. The one exception to justify murder would have been if these two were trying to physically murder her.

Even if you believe the allegation that Dan and his new wife were trying to drive Betty Broderick insane and have her commit suicide, that's still not the same thing as having your life threatened. It's not a physical threat. You can simply avoid them. There's no evidence that any physical threats were ever made against Betty Broderick. Dan didn't drive his vehicle into Betty's house. It was the other way around.

Yes, she did lose the original house she shared with Dan in the legal battles. But she still ended up with a very nice house and a ridiculously large monthly alimony payment, large even by today's standards.

So the "poor little bankrupt Betty" act really doesn't wash when you look at the facts.

You have to be responsible for your own mind, even when it's sick. Even if it's sick because of human cruelty. Even if this is because of psychological torture, which might have occurred here.

I say "might have occurred." But the truth is I don't really believe it. I think the real torture for Betty was that Dan stopped loving her. And that tortured her everyday and she couldn't get past it.

She shot both of them for a reason. She didn't just shoot Dan. She was trying to unwrite what life had written. Murder doesn't even do that. Which is why Betty Broderick is still mentally anguished. Killing them didn't even give her any release, any feeling of peace. If you hear her speak today, you can see she's still miserable.

People react in so many different ways to abandonment. People heal at different rates. If only this woman could have chosen to get mental health treatment (or even been forced--as she was once, but she signed herself out immediately after the required 72 hours) her life and that of her children would be so much better today.

Today, stalking behavior is taken much more seriously. But in the year that these murders occurred, there were fewer laws in place and people didn't recognize the patterns as readily.

I know Broderick's acts can't be defended using the insanity defense, since she clearly was not legally insane.

But I do believe she was insane in the medical sense when she committed her act. Perhaps a majority of murderers (or close to a majority) are. It won't affect the prosecution and it's almost seen as incidental today. The world is full of crazy people. Some of them kill and some of them don't.

The simple fact is she should have walked away. She should have medicated herself, committed herself. Anything other than what she did.

Yes, her husband baited her horribly.

Had he been a decent person, he would have tried to make her life more tolerable, even if he felt he had to leave her.

But when I hear Betty Broderick speak, in those hateful answering machine messages and elsewhere, she often sounds like the worst stereotypical, violent male predator.

This makes me wonder if maybe she initially fell in love with Dan Broderick because they were so alike.  

I know many people think Dan Broderick was an arrogant prick and maybe he was. He's not here to defend himself or his choices. We don't really know what went on in that marriage. It does appear he looked at his marriage after the breakup as only another contract, another legal battle, another chance to prove his competency.

One wonders if he could have tried to have a more human response to Betty's pain. Or would that have just been sending her mixed messages and giving her false hope for a reconciliation?

I believe Betty Broderick is still insane.

I suspect she's had many people bolstering her own insane arguments about why she was ultimately justified in what she did.

Some of these people might be advocates for abused women or feminist thinkers who might be trading on Broderick's story to add interest to whatever they're writing or whatever cause they're espousing.

But allowing Broderick to continually self-justify and to refuse to look at the true nature of her act is ultimately to do her a great disservice as a human being.

I understand exactly why the parole board said what they said to her when refusing her request. I feel it's unfortunate they set the next hearing at the maximum allowable amount (fifteen years, when Broderick will be well into her seventies). Because she could have a breakthrough next year and begin to truly understand what she has done and what she has forever undone.

It's horrible to see a human being become a killer because they loved someone in a very honest and trusting way. It's like that classic Raymond Carver story, "What We Talk about When We Talk about Love." That's basically this story being told one afternoon over cocktails, deeply troubling some couples with its mordant truth value.

I suppose Medea was the exact same story. The only difference is Broderick didn't physically sacrifice her children--she did it emotionally and spiritually.

Aphrodite Jones, in her recent documentary on Broderick, included commentary by a journalist who summed up Broderick's situation today best: "She feels that if she just tells you every single horrible thing he did to her, every unjust and cruel act perpetrated against her by her ex and his new wife, she can somehow make you understand that what she did to those two people was justified." (I'm paraphrasing).

And that's exactly what she did at her parole board hearing and that's why she was (understandably) denied.

Is Betty Broderick a threat to anyone other than herself anymore?

Probably not.

Is she insane? I believe she is still completely insane. I mean she has no control over her own mind or that idee fixe she has that Dan (and his new wife) made her do it.

That's the insanity. That she felt like a puppet even as she premeditated and did this heinous act.

She has never believed that she was responsible for the murder. Somehow, Dan nefariously drove her to do this against her will. Or that's what I'm honestly convinced this woman believes.

I mean I believe that she believes what she says about Dan still persecuting her from beyond the grave with his connections and powerful friends. Those people have probably all long buried this story in their minds and forgotten about Betty Broderick. But she hasn't forgotten about them. She's still there. In that year. In that nightmare. In that bedroom trying to reason with him by putting bullets into him.

Which is so sad. But I guess it protects her from the knowledge of what she actually did. Maybe she can't survive knowing the truth. I've seen other murderers like that. They simply create the truth they can live with. In a sense, we all do this, even those of us who are non-murderers.

I don't think for a moment it's an act. Because as an act it's not self-serving at all. The act that would serve her would be contrition, false or otherwise. But she can't go there. She's still fighting a dead man.

I kept thinking how ironic this situation is. Because you just know if Betty Broderick had been a stone-cold sociopath and not a woman driven insane by betrayed love, she would have surely been paroled after that recent hearing.

Because parole boards are only too ready to be flattered by people who know just what to say in any given circumstance.

Had Broderick been such a creature, she would have aced that hearing.

But sociopaths don't turn themselves in, either. And Broderick turned herself in the very day she committed these murders.

Probably because she didn't know what to to. Her entire reason for existing (revenge) had ceased once her great antagonist was dead. Her universe was probably spinning. I bet it felt like the Death of God to her.

And then she found her champions and advocates and she fell almost gleefully into her victim narrative.

At her trail, she'd go from genuine sobbing, tearful testimony to weird little gleeful smiles when she made hateful jibes at her dead antagonist. It was creepy and pathetic.

It was so clear she was insane.

Just not legally insane.

If the prosecution had not managed to get so much defense material quashed in the second trial, she might very well have ended up with a hung jury or been acquitted there too.

I suspect Betty Broderick is in two prisons.

One is made out of cinderblocks and bars.

But I suspect the one from which she may never be paroled is actually flesh and bone, memories and emotions she can't wash clean. And this while her children have gone from elementary school age to full adulthood.

I hope they have found a peace somewhere beyond this.


  1. Her telling the truth and what was done to her doesn't make her insane in my book. She did what she had to do----she put a stop to the torture those two lowlifes were putting her through. Screw what is politically correct. They got 'theirs'.

    1. I'm not condoning murder, however, if her ex had dealt with her fairly, he and his little chippie would still be alive today. Her ex tortured her; she was totally at a disadvantage as he was a very powerful attorney and had very powerful attorney friends. Her ex and his little sleaze of a wife did everything in their power to drive her crazy.

    2. I Hope the Broderick Parole Board would reconsider and release her! She claimed abuse and Abuse is correct. I can't think of anything more abusive then Marital unfaithfulness after you've given your life to help someone obtain success. What he did was wrong! Betty should be released on the grounds of self defense, and robbery...that woman Alienated her from the affection of her husband (today women are suing women in court for Alienation of Affection when other women take their husbands out of the house). She served her time and should be released on those grounds! She was robbed by that young Secretary! I don't see why the law didn't see that as abuse.

    3. I don't think Betty Brockerick is insane at all. In fact, she is well-spoken and honest about her participation in the deaths. Mrs. Broderick is highly intelligent. She is quite capable of presenting herself in a way in which the parole board could release her. She's said over the years, however, that her life in prison is comfortable. She uses her time productively to assist and teach her fellow inmates. She may not want to be released at this time.

    4. She wasn't even a secretary! SHE COULDNT TYPE!!!

  2. Hi Commenter at 5:14. I don't believe in endorsing murder. I don't doubt that the two were willing to exploit B.B.'s mental instability to their benefit (particularly her ex) but we should remember that every action B.B. took was her own choice. Because she refused to allow her ex the freedom to leave her, things spiraled out of control. You can't make another person love you or continue to love you, and B.B.'s actions seem to have been based more on that, on turning back the clock, than on trying to see what was best for herself and her own children. She saw herself as a human sacrifice and so proceeded from that assumption. If you hear the phone conversations in which she is talking right through her own child's torturous crying and pleading, you realize how much her mental illness began to dehumanize her in the same ways that Dan was willing to dehumanize her in the legal proceedings. If she had chosen to save herself and stick it to him legally, she could be a contented woman today, and be enjoying the love of the parts of her family worth loving.

  3. I'm very surprised to read someone actually condone murder saying 'they got theirs',in the end the kids are who footed the ENTIRE bill for both BB & her ex's actions from the day things started to go downhill. If BB or any woman had taken up with a 'newer model'of their spouse,shed be called a slut,horrible mother,etc,but for a man its fine. My point is that no matter what her ex did,NO ONE deserves to be murdered unless its actual self defense. The kids have no parents now--a mentally ill mom and dead father. No amount of work can help BB,or their poor kids.

  4. The narrative by Joe Brainard is the best summary I've ever seen. I agree. (One question: Why is the "F" word necessary for someone can otherwise intelligently communicate??!!!!)

    As far as William Keckler's suggestion that she "stick it to him legally". Isn't that precisely one of the points of utter rage, in that she was unable to get a fair deal even in the legal system as her ruthless ex "schmoozed and she got treated unfairly and judges let him slide at every turn". Who wouldn't be driven to insane extremes!

  5. Commenter at 3:19, I agree. I responded to the pro-murder comment.

    BB and her kids would certainly be free of so much hellish misery had she chosen to let go and move on.

    Commenter at 4:32. Nobody here is Joe Brainard. He's a great artist/poet who died a few decades back. I am William Keckler.

    About that "being the point?" What point? That she failed completely as a human being by taking the lives of two of her fellow human beings?

    There was no point. Yeah, her ex and possibly his new wife were happy to make BB miserable. But in the end happiness comes from WITHIN (barring things like physical infirmities or sickness). She chose to continually pursue the path of misery by refusing to let her ex go.

    She made no sense at all. Because since she left hate messages constantly on the answering machine stating that he was a worthless monster "every year of (his) life" WHY WANT HIM BACK THEN?

    She still was living in a huge house and getting a ridiculous amount of money (even by TODAY's standards) per month from him.

    She ONLY lost custody because she was terrorizing the kids as well as her ex and his new wife.

    I said I have a "twinge of empathy" for her but that's all I have ultimately.

    I see this as yet another example of someone with mental illness who did not get treatment "in time."

    She's not legally insane.

    But she is insane. I think she's still insane.

    I hope she has a spiritual awakening before she dies.

    Maybe that would be too painful for her.

    But she lives in the past and she lives in a reality that doesn't exist.

    Abandonment is horrible.

    But murder is even worse.

  6. I've been mesmerized by this case since the news of the murder, and have read many articles, and a few books about it.
    I still contend, and this is my opinion only, that this whole thing could have been avoided had her ex and his trophy treated Betty with respect. To gang up on an obviously distraught woman is downright shameful.
    To flaunt your happiness in someone's face never has a happy ending. I pray for Betty, and that she releases her anger; but I understand what she did, even though I don't condone murder. I understand the despair someone feels when everything is pointing to "you're alone in this world," even if in truth you're not. Despair is not rational -- but it's powerful. Hopefully no one here will ever have to experience it.

    1. Very well said. I say, "Amen," too!

    2. I so agree. I also think that the community would be 'safe' if Betty were paroled.

    3. I do not know if the community would be "safe". During the trial Betty said horrible things and threatened her children. There is no amen to what she did. My ex-husband was very unkind and left for another woman, and I DIDN'T get a house or $16,000 per month. Just figured good riddance. Watch the parole hearings she is just as MAD today as she was when she pulled the trigger - on purpose - and murdered two people.

    4. I think they should let betty go.I think she was out fo her mind.he took her home her children her life. I dont think she is a bad person.I think she was done wrong. I will keep you in my prayers betty.

  7. Commenter at 7:16. I agree with what you eloquently and succinctly say. You're right, "Despair is not rational--but it's powerful." So powerful that over twenty years later, she's still in the thrall of it. I wonder if her children try to have any relationship with her. I wonder if they feel anger or pity or both towards her. I imagine they've probably gone through therapy and talked to others in similar situations.

  8. I don't condone murder. However, I have to disagree when B.Broderick is called sane. In the book called "the 12th of never", she clearly showed signs of manic depressive behavior, before & after Mr. Brodericks affair & subsequent divorce from her. While married, she was in a hypo-manic state; individuals in this state are quick,funny,clever,delightful to be around. (think Jim Carrey,Zelda Fitzgerald,etc.). When her marriage was ended by Dan, she went crossed over to the other side including delusional and paranoid thinking. Beyond a few short hospital stays, there was nothing else ever done for her illness. This lady needed extensive hospital stays & medication! Mr. Broderick was given multiple Tarasoff warnings; very serious actions indeed for a psychiatrist to resort too, yet, he ignored these. There was a quote in the book by one of the security guards employed by Dan on his wedding day " for a $2.00 alarm, they would both be alive." I feel very sorry for the children, and for the families of Dan & Linda, but Dan showed incredible insensitivity and arrogance for both his former and present wives. I believe a more appropriate place for Betty would be an institution for the criminally insane where she would at least get some treatment.

  9. Your account here is better than those crazy TV movies which are so one-sided, they reminded me of "The Social Network", in which Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed as almost psychotic. Heck, if Betty had been married to the Dan portrayed as ridiculously nice by Stephen Collins, none of this would have happened. Betty could have learned a lot from Connecticut corporate wife Lorna Wendt, whose divorce was one of the largest in the U.S. ever, ten years later. If their marriages had broken up in reverse order, Betty would have had a blueprint of what to do, and what NOT to do. Of course there are differences in their cases, the main one being that the Wendt marriage broke up because (they both acknowledge) Lorna no longer wanted to perform the demanding role of supporting a career of a powerful executive, whereas Betty seemed to relish it. And Gary Wendt did not have the legal influence Dan had. The main thing is, Lorna stayed level-headed, and proved that as an equal partner from the beginning she was entitled to half of everything. Most importantly, she held her head high and allowed Gary to be the fool in interviews. ("I worked; she didn't." Oh really?!) Lorna's organization, The Equality in Marriage Institute could have advised Betty had it been around then.

  10. Hi Xav. Thanks. I tried to look at it realistically. I really do feel sorry for the woman. We've almost all had terrible break ups we thought at one time were going to kill us. But most of us eventually got past it. I agree if this happened two decades later, things would have probably gone down differently. Broderick would have probably been corralled earlier as a stalker and ultimately this would have been for her own good. Because she would probably be free now, nobody would be dead and she'd have the love of all her children, not just the half that support her now. I remember hearing about that other high profile case but didn't know the facts. And in regard to people who think raising children and keeping a home is not "work," they need a reality check. But Betty didn't only do that. As you probably know (but someone else reading this might not) Broderick worked many jobs outside the house to support Dan and help him get the place he wanted to go professionally. Hell, he went through all that work to be a doctor and then just decided after all of that he would be a lawyer and took off blithely in the other direction, causing Betty to make more sacrifices and work more jobs, which she seems to have done without complaints. My cynical self is saying "You saddled up the right mule, didn't you, boy?" I'm not laughing at Betty with that comment. I'm grimacing at Dan B.'s seeming selfishness. In the end, this murder wasn't about money though. Sixty thousand a month is nothing to sneeze at, even in 2012. Imagine what that was in early 1990s currency! "If I can't have you, no one will." That's all this really was. And yeah, t.v. movies are known for their sensationalistic handling of relationships like this. It's always some simple little formula. I see flawed characters and horrible decisions on both sides of this tragedy. Thanks for your very thoughtful comment.

  11. Believe that amount was more like $10,000 per month.

  12. Dan B. was sleazy. He should have settled up with her and gave her a nice big settlement for all of the crap she went through with him, and all of the hard work raising their kids. If he wouldn't have been so busy hiding money with his brother and sticking her in a rental house while he stayed in the family home, maybe that boob would still be alive.

  13. Always remember that only the two actual parties involved in anything know what really went on, and that there are two sides to every story, and then you will never get the truth, because each side tells their own version of actual events. Let's mourn for the deceased, the children involved, and for the living.

  14. I agree. Succinctly stated, but probably the shortest way to summarize this horrible "tale." Thanks for your comment.

  15. Some of these photos are new (of Dan and Linda) -- on the video - ones I hadn't seen before. I really wish this poor woman would have just gotten herself together, physically and mentally, and moved on. She was so much better than the two of them and ick, Linda has teeth missing! (Sorry, but she does!) Love, rejection and anger is explosive! Thanks for a great article.

  16. Thanks for your comment and the compliment, Belinda! I think it was spooky how well Meredith captured her troubled spirit in those t.v. movies (at times anyway). Even if they aren't perfect physical matches. She caught her rage.

  17. I don't condone murder, but what he did to her, it is amazing BB was able to put up with it for so long He fueled her anger knowing every step of the way what he was doing. Not that she had to buy in, but she could not take it. The hurt, the anger she felt was enormous. She was unable to deal with the rejection for a younger woman. He would not have been that well-connected attorney if it would not have been for her struggling in the early years of their marriage. He did many things wrong. I would have been angry. I definitely understand her turmoil. Dan pushed the right buttons and pushed her over the edge. Committing murder is very wrong. I feel for the kids. I know they suffered the most from this. I admire that her daughter would like her released to live with her. I frankly believe she is no danger to society. I think she has to live with her own demons. And the prison she is in and would be in even after she got out will still be the same. Society is unforgiving and would be not so nice to her. She would have to deal with that, or she would hide in her home. I can see no reason to keep her in jail. She does need some mental health tretments to help her realize what happened and what she needs to do to go on. I don't think that will happen in jail.

    I say give her back to her family. She has to live with what she did through their eyes every day.

  18. I agree. OMG it's on LMN right now. I just noticed. I keep the channel on for my cat. Meredith is so good in this. And the other one.

  19. BB is where she belongs. There is no doubt a out her guilt. However, her ex and his new wife were absolutely horrible for the way they tormented her and took her dignity from her. I feel sorry for their families but not for the two of them. Let this be a lesson to people who treat others with anything less than respect and kindness. Poor kids.i am so sorry for them and hope they have been able to overcome the flaws of their parents and avoid them in thei own character.

  20. Thanks for your comment, "Business Owner." The more I think about this case, the more I realize in the end Dan and Betty were too much alike. They both wanted to be total winners. And in life you can't always be a total winner. I think Betty was just as covetous of the social status that came with being Mrs. Broderick as she was BEING Mrs. Broderick. She became Medea. She lost her humanity. So in that, I agree with you about prison. She could have grown over these past few decades, but she really seems trapped back there in the past. Like somehow she can still get justification, she can still win. How do you wake up someone who is that deeply asleep/clueless. Empathy is a gift. People have it in varying degrees, that capacity. If she had it, she would be CRUSHED by the realization of what she's really done.

  21. William- Have you ever seen the Lifetime movie on Betty starring Meredith Baxter? After seeing the real Betty in an interview I could not believe what a great job Meredith Baxter did portraying her. It is called "A Woman Scorned" if you want to try to find it.

    I agree, I feel for her in a way. It's almost like she doesn't see what she did wrong because she was so hurt and angry over the end of her marriage. It's sad to see anyone throw their life away the way she did.

    1. The bad thing about that movie is that it doesn't show what a mean beotch Linda was. I have read from those who claim to know her that it was hard to find one person that really thought she was a nice person. She seemed just like a normal "girlfriend" in the movie. From what I understand also, the movie was written with Dan's friends as consultants so it didn't show the lengths that Dan and his girlfriend went to to contribute to Betty's downward spiral.

      The whole thing is really sad. Betty had no understanding of the concept that if she had just "behaved", gotten a good settlement and moved on, Dan and Linda probably wouldn't even be married today!

  22. Hey Pearl. Hope you're having a great day! I'm surprised I didn't mention seeing it in this blog post but yes, I'm a fan of both those movies. There are actually two of them. The first goes up to the murder. The second movie shows her on trial. I thought Meredith Baxter Birney was fabulous in that and really caught her character completely. That was way better than typical t.v. acting. I think she played it exactly the way it happened: two people who were too much damn alike in having to always WIN went head to head. So someone had to lose because neither could relent. But one person was being a jerk about money. The other person actually killed two people. So two imperfect people. We're all imperfect. If this had happened today, BB would probably have been reigned in much quicker as a stalker and dangerous. She would have probably been contained for a while. But the way she's held on t his for decades and still seems to think the same way? Probably even if she had been in prison and gotten out five years later, she might have gone stalking him and killed him. Because she doesn't seem to ever have waken up. She still blames him. I do feel for her, I just feel for the dead, their loved ones, and her own children more. Because none of those people did the unthinkable as Betty did. The saddest thing of all is she probably still loves him. Because all of this evil is love gone over. Unless you think she's a total sociopath, in which case she's incapable of love. But I don't think she is. There's no evidence of that and she never behaved like one. I think the real tragedy is how Betty was raised to worship powerful men and think that prestige and status is everything. So it wasn't just losing Dan and the insult of being abandoned. That status and those friends meant a LOT to her. In that, she was very shallow. I hope she wakes up.

  23. lots of typos sorry..."reined in*" "too damn much alike" etc.

  24. I believe that Betty Broderick should remain in prison. If you take someone else's life without justification (for example, self-defence), you should not be required to forfeit your own life, but you should be forced to forfeit your freedom, permanently.

    That being said, it's hard to find two more unsympathetic murder victims than Dan Broderick and Linda Kolkena. I think what bothered me most about Dan's behaviour was not so much the affair per se but the fact he did it behind his wife's back for so many years. If he was so unhappy in his marriage (which it sounds like he was, even before Linda came into the picture), why didn't he call it quits then and there as soon as he took a fancy to Linda?

    Linda Kolkena seemed like a gold-digger only interested in Dan's money. One source says that several weeks before her wedding, she was sleeping with her ex-boyfriend. So maybe if Betty had simply walked away from the whole situation, she might eventually have seen Dan as humiliated by Linda as she (Betty) was by Dan.

  25. Interesting viewpoint. Maybe you're right about a life sentence--it was clearly premeditated despite what B.B. said. I agree with your characterization of D.B. and L.K. as "unsympathetic," but don't agree that it's hard to find "two more unsympathetic murder victims." I can easily imagine those--how about a husband who beats his wife and children every day? But I think I know what you mean--you're just using an expression, the vernacular. That would be interesting. If it's true, I mean. Who knows with stuff online--not doubting you personally, but "who knows" with characterizations like that once someone is dead and not here to defend herself or himself, ya know? Probably he would have just jumped to an even younger, flashier woman though. I don't think B.B. would have been happy with anything but taking complete repossession of Dan, and his cushy life and all the amenities that came with that. But even if the Linda "gold digga" scenario wasn't true, there was still a greater than 50% chance B.B. was going to see the marriage breakup anyway (it's just the statistics in America). I'm not sure if it's true but I once read that when longterm first marriages break up, the chance of the second union lasting any long period of time drops dramatically. I think it was like 30% success rate or even less. And then if you get married a third time, the odds were less than 10% for any longterm success (I think 5 years was the "long term" the study was going by). So approximately 50%, then 30%, then 10%. In other words, people can get really good at failure with practice. :-)

  26. I'm not saying that it's impossible to find more unsympathetic murder victims than Dan Broderick and Linda Kolkena, just very difficult. It's of course too late now, but perhaps 1.) Dan Broderick should have left the marriage as soon as it became clear the marriage was unsustainable (allegedly even before Linda Kolkena came into the picture) and definitely when he started his affair with Linda, and 2.) it is easy to sympathize with Betty Broderick's feeling of betrayal when her husband began the affair with Kolkena, but Betty should have ensured she got a good settlement and moved on, emotionally and financially, and given up the idea that Dan would ever come back to her. I also think she had an (understandable) need to hurt Dan, but in the end she only ended up killing two people and landing herself a (possibly lifelong) prison sentence.

  27. Most people get over things eventually. Sometimes a divorce after a long marriage like that takes years or even decades to "get over"--well, achieve distance from it, anyway. But I don't think Betty ever budged an inch from her initial feelings of total righteousness in her rage. And this is why the parole board turned her down. She still sounded "scary." (Two of her kids didn't even want her released--felt she could still be a threat.) She really is a tragic figure. I think we're all drawn to this story because it's so much like a Greek tragedy. Character flaws lead to people's downfalls. And as in Greek tragedy, you have the Greek chorus everywhere warning the protagonist what's going to happen (Betty's friends and children begging her to relent). And yet it just goes forward towards its horrible climax like fate. It's like a play by Sophocles. Except real. And here not there.

  28. I can't believe what I am reading here. So many people seem to be simply spouting the defence case. I am sure Dan was not a perfect guy but the prevailing perception that he screwed his ex over in court is more a projection of Bettys twisted thinking than reality. First, I am not sure how a fat alimony cheque every month plus a luxury beach house qualifies as being done over in a divorce. Second, there is a memorial award in Dans name for the attorney who is judged the most ethical presented each year. The legal community would hardly arrange that for an utter bastard.

    Furthermore from what I have read BB was exhibiting crazy behaviour long before Linda came on the scene. And she had a long term boyfriend when she shot Dan and Linda. She continues to project and live in a fantasy and we seem to ready to buy it.

    1. That Dan screwed Betty over in court is not anyone's opinion. The judge in her case was a personal friend of Dan and clearly made numerous and preposterous rulings in Dan's favor (such as allowing Dan to deduct "fines" from her monthly spousal support). Those "fat" alimony checks were Betty's legal share of the marital assets, unfairly divided since Dan went to great lengths to hide nearly $1million of those assets. (At least that's what was found; the likelihood is great -- since he hid some at all -- that he withheld and hid much more.)Furthermore, let's remember that the "most ethical attorney" award named in Dan's honor, is the attorney judged most ethical by the attorneys themselves. That's would be like if the City of Riverside voted itself the most suitable place to live in the universe.

    2. i belive they should let her go free , shes no harm to anyone only to her ex and his new wife. i belive they both drove her over the edge...... its time to move on and let her go !!! the parole board is so un forgiven , shes done her time ,

    3. release her she was sent over the edge by her ex and his new wife, she has paid for what she did, its time to move on let her go home, she not going to harm any one else. this is a decent women who was driven crazy by the cruel way her ex and his new wife treated her,, she made him what he was and after he made it big he left her for a younger women or girl. set her free. she paid enought.

  29. Rosemary, don't you think that Dan should not have had an affair behind Betty's back all those years? At least he could have been more honest and left the marriage when he realized it was essentially over.

    By the way, as I said above, I think Betty Broderick should stay in jail. However, this is not to say that her victims behaved honorably.

    1. Not only didn't act honorably but also were stupid. They thought she was "crazy" and she showed that numerous times - breaking into the house, driving her car into the front door. Then she bought a gun and they knew it. So what do they do? Keep poking an alligator and it will bite. Also, no alarm on the house? No changing the locks even after she came in several times? Sounds like a death wish.

  30. All we have for "facts" is that Bella Strumbo book which was a biased piece of garbage. Strumbo wanted to turn Betty Broderick, a narcissistic sociopath, into some kind of feminist martyr. Everything she has said was a pile of lies. We don't know the true nature of the Broderick marriage because we don't have both sides. People leave spouses all the time for others, but the "victim" spouse rarely retaliates through murder. Betty Broderick is right where she should be and should NEVER get out of prison.

  31. Giggling at your Riverside comparison.

  32. And yes, it's just one of those sad cases where "what's done cannot be undone." I wish it had happened differently. Hopefully people will experience a sort of catharsis through her story and not go down that road. But I tend to think irrationality makes its own rules, its own universe, and people just pass in and out of it and sometimes it really looks to be beyond their control. I believe in free will, but I also think people lose control, lose their orientation, and in that sense I think she was "insane." Not just legally insane. But in the sense that she became obsessed. Love isn't worth it if you need a gun to get it.

  33. William, if you get a chance stop by your local library and read the 3 books that have been written. Until the twelfth of never, by Bella Stumbo.

    Betty did not get a beach house, she got a house that had a down payment paid by Dan from the sale of their family home which also supplied his down payment for his home. He stopped paying taxes and paid only minimum on the credit cards for two years. Then he somehow had money to pay it all off after the divorce. Then he claimed "Epstein" credits from the settlement which left Betty with a total sum of $30K. He paid Betty $9K a month until January 1989 when the judge increased it to $16K. He was making $1M plus a year and he was still on his way up. Betty asked for a settlement of $1M and $25K a month. Chum change considering what he had hidden and potential.

    Also, what people forget is that she dealt with this loss for 4 years - he left her in Feb 1985. If she was "insane" she would have taken him out much earlier. There were many things that effected her. Custody, he disowned their 2nd daughter who was suffering as well - she ended up with the wrong crowd, his persistence of court orders and fines, and many more. All this effected her in ways that only a very strong person can withstand. Stumbo was actually very unbiased in her research for this book. In fact, she was very critical of Betty.

    After you read up on it, you will understand why so many people out there sympathize with her and wish her well.

  34. Commenter at 9:25. I would probably find those books very interesting and enlightening (so much contradictory info out there on B.B.) but as I get older I read less and less and would want to reserve my attention for literature I've been meaning to read for some time. But I appreciate you giving the pointers and others reading this might very well crave more info and here you give them some great resources. About "taken him out much earlier"--insanity can build too. I thought I had made it clear I wish her well. But part of that is her acknowledging the horror of the act she committed. Think of all the people who loved and valued those two people, who relied on them to be there for many years. I don't deny Dan engaged in some schmuckish behavior and he might have even been a total schmuck. But you don't go to murder. That's never a solution. Look at Newtown, Connecticut right now. I think we've reached the point as a culture where we need to integrate "non-violence" and "non-violent solutions" as courses in all our schools. It's barely touched on and because it's now a civic matter. We all pay--as in cash--when a murder occurs. It's not just figuratively or emotionally we pay. Prosecution is expensive and a lifetime in jail is even much more expensive. It's ridiculous the amount that is spent yearly to house one prisoner. It's enough to feed a large family. I think it's ethically sound to see non-violence it as part of civics and teach it. I can't see any justification for an argument against this. Because any argument against it would basically be saying "I want my kid to think it's okay to physically attack or kill people."

  35. Thanks for your comment, Belinda. I have this feeling you're right that he would have ended up trading Linda in (in time) for a new "trophy." But "nisi nil bonum," I guess. ("Speak no ill of the dead.")

  36. Reply to your reply to me. If you follow up on the trials and that Stumbo book, you will find that Dan Broderick was way more than a schmuck. Two parties called up the defense to report Dan had tried to instigate to have Betty murdered even before he left. One was a cab driver whose daughter was a client. He reported that Dan offered upwards of 500K but didn't follow up on it when the driver said he could not guarantee that Dan initiated. The other was a law officer who had a concealed weapon license Dan met at a bar in Lake Tahoe. The man's girlfriend was watching TV court and saw Betty - immediately contacted the defense. The judge (of course biased and friends with Dan) disallowed the testimonies claiming that Dan's state of mind was not on trial. A third person called the defense that he overheard Dan and Linda making plans to drive Betty to kill herself, but the defense didn't think it was strong enough. Even though Betty did not learn of these until the trial, she felt justified after. I don't agree that murder was the solution, but when driven to the wall, any person in that state of mind would react.

    As for the people who loved and expected the two people who died to be around, I am sorry... Those people should have stepped in sooner and stopped this madness. Dan himself told his friends that this will never be over until one of them is gone. What did he mean by that? He knew... it would either be himself or Betty taking her own life.

  37. I always thought that Betty got the short end of the stick in all of this. I don't advocate murder either, but some abusers really are so bereft of humanity that they are wasted space in this world. I can understand what Betty did and why. I can even understand Dan and Linda. Linda was a chiseling whore looking for a good meal ticket, finding it in Dan and Dan had the ego of King Kong truly believing in his very own absolute superiority. Good for Dan and this sure has been a guy thing for decades now, but Dan and Linda had to have known how much they were hurting Betty and they didn't really care. They continued to harass her and minimize her. I can understand how Betty got to the point of killing them. What I cannot understand is how unsympathetic some people have been to the damage done to Betty and for the parole board to think that she can just "move on" is unrealistic and especially hurtful. Victims have difficulty just "moving on" especially on someone else's time table, but this doesn't mean that she would kill again. So, I just wonder how much psych help Betty has received while in prison. The kind of non-judgmental, helpful, caring assistance that would allow her wounds to heal. Just because we cannot see the wounds that Dan and Linda inflicted on Betty does not mean that she hasn't been wounded severely. There are many types of death that exclude physical death and so much of Betty was killed by first Dan and then Dan and Linda. It seems almost like their new sport of "How much damage can we inflict on Betty and isn't this so much fun?" Yep, I understand a lot of this and I'm not saying that anyone is right or wrong, certainly murder IN ALL FORMS is wrong, but then how many people really can say that they have never inflicted harm on another person? And who is to say which damage is more harmful to the victim?

  38. I can't believe that anyone can justify what she did! I grew up in a "real life" Betty Broderick story. Almost to a T other than the murder...but ill tell you..I fear everyday that my brother will murder my dad and stepmom or myself because my mother made him her her mind she is a victim and all of her actions are justified and thry alwsyd will has been about 24 years since it sll started. Finally after so many years of disfunction i got to the point that we (mother, father. Brother and myself) were either going to work on mending things and moving on or i was going to be done with my mother and brother and move on with my life for good..without them...needless to say my mother stood up, pointed her finger at me and told me it was all MY fault! 20 years of her not being able to move on..was now my fault! Seriously, im not going to bore you with my story...but my opinion..from living through it and also going through my own "bad relationships"... my mother is a self absorbed, vicious woman who blames any and everyone else for her miserable life...but im sorry...only you determine your one else..she has choosen to stay stuck in 1989 and never move on...she ruined my brothers life...mine..well, I finally decided sfter counseling to move my kids 1700 miles away from her and leave the negativity with her...I refuse to let my kids be affected by them as I they had turned on me at 12 years old because I spoke my mind and would discredit her "victim" mother never told the whole story and I saw that as a kid..I was there in the middle of it my dad was a jerk but my mom was way worse...she didn't care about anyone but herself she damaged me and my brother and didn't care one bit... still to this day her hate and rage fuels her...

  39. Sorry to hear, Karissa. I agree. Murder is unconscionable.

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  42. It bothers me to hear people come to Dan's defense at all. Even considering exageration, it only takes a few facts to show how bad he is - cheating, hiding money, cutting his daughter out of his will.(What's up with that?)
    As I go through my own divorce, I fully understand struggling with hate and bitterness. I don't want revenge. I have a need for the world to see how wrong my husband is. This is where my empathy with Betty Broderick lies.

    I was frustrated when the movie devoted so little time to Dan's lack of presence at the death of their baby. This hit me personally because I sat in the hospital waiting room alone 4 times while my children were having surgery.

    Certainly murder is NEVER right, and I probably shouldn't make light of it, but, as the song from the show Chicago says, "He had it coming."

    1. Your comment hits upon tthe underlying reason why the bb story continues to resonate. We each come to it with our experiences of love, marriage and the unpleasant fact that spouses do not live up to the dream and that love can wither and die as we beg for it to stay.

      No one on this site has the balance sheet on who was more imperfect in this relationship but i think we can all agree that betty was absolutely in the wrong for mudering two people

  43. Commenter 3/23 @ 9:28: Thanks for your comment on that comment. I agree about no one having "the balance sheet." And yes, if you EVER really loved or love someone you do not kill them. The "if I can't have you, no one will" type of "love" is not love at all.

  44. I do empathize with BB a little, and here is why- EVERYTHING Dan had, he owed to her. She worked her butt off putting him through school, raising their children basically on her own and losing a child during pregnancy without any support from him. I am rereading Stumbo's book, and it seems to me that Dan married Betty for her motherly, family oriented personality and then resented her for it. I'm sure she was raised to support her husband unconditionally and expected the same treatment from him.

  45. She is a psycho . No wonder they weren't getting along . She is a socialpath . And deserves worse than what she got PERIOD....

  46. Right. Betty is the "socialpath"[?] and Dan is the "Victim"!! Case Closed!!! Solved!! Understood!!
    Anonymous, you are a genius.

  47. joebrainardspajamas: Your analysis of Betty Broderick's behavior swaggers from making sense of her behavior to a breaking point of killing, while condemning it at turns. it makes no sense that there would be no consequence from her husband's taunts and punishments which served only to further inflame her and fragile mind provoke her her already broken emotional control which unraveled horribly. YES! His behavior and others like him historically have driven men and women to acts of murder. So you cannot really have it both ways by saying her actions were unwarranted. When it comes to humans and their minds and emotions the reverse is actually true. To even suggest that one "walk away" is totally unrealistic when you believe that everything you lived for is dripping away and especially by the punitive reactions of a self centered, narcissistic husband. In a perfect world of robots which we will all be visited upon sooner than we'd like, your argument would make sense.

    1. When desire is slavery, it's time to let desire go. I totally condemn the murder and every violent thing she did (like torture her children with her own breakdown). "Driven" to murder seems a bit much. She drove herself. She drove herself right through that front door. Driven implies she's not responsible. She is.

    2. When I saw "A Woman Scorned," I saw my ex-wife portrayed exactly. I know this Betty Broderick well. When the marriage ended, she felt extreme guilt which she was unable to face, so she projected it on Dan. Her one and only desire was to punish him forever. In my case, my ex had all the power and money, and she ruined me financially and used all the tricks to manipulate the kids. I can assure you that if I had been able to fight her, she would have eventually killed me as Betty did Dan.
      Let me make a few points:

      1. It is irrelevant whether Dan and Linda were scumbags. Why would she want to stay with Dan if he was cheating on her? Because she wanted power over him.

      2. What if he did "trade her in on a younger model?" That is such a despicable act that any healthy person would want to get as far away from such a person as possible....unless they are only interested in having power over another person.

      3. Dan didn't owe her anything for all her hard work putting him through school. That's just another ploy for her to get power over him. I'm surprised people buy into this. So, he HAS to stay married to her forever even though she treats him like dirt and he doesn't love her? Is that what people think? Really? Indentured servitude has been illegal in the U.S. for a long time. Women's groups who support this nonsense should think again.

      4. Sorry, no matter what Dan and LInda were like, it doesn't justify murder.
      She murdered them as her final demonstration of her power over him.

      I see right through you Betty Broderick. You can't stand to face the fact that you couldn't keep your marriage together, so you are darn well going to prove to the world that it was all his fault, by punishing him. You couldn't stand the fact that he moved on with his life without your consent, so you had to destroy him. Well, you did that. And in so doing, you destroyed yourself. Because now he is dead, and he can't possibly "comply" with your desire to control, and as long as you hold on, you can never be free, never be happy.

      Betty Broderick should stay in prison as an object lesson to people who think they have the right to control another person.

    3. Well said. I think they were too much alike. I would say, "They deserved each other," if the outcome weren't so horrific. Who knows how much they would have grown in positive directions if the murders hadn't occurred. There was always that chance anyway. I think they were both alike in overvaluing money and social prestige. She became a Fury. I think people are drawn to that, because it it's an archetype from literature that goes back to virtually the birth of drama. It really is like a revisiting of Medea and some of the other ever-popular works of Greek tragedy. Most women are seen as passive in these sorts of situations and this archetype might serve the purpose of catharsis (the original intent of Greek drama) by allowing people to vicariously feel that "release." But making Betty Broderick a hero because she turned psychotically violent (totally neglecting her own welfare and that of her children in the process) isn't going to help her or anyone else who wants to live in the real world and survive painful but survivable things like divorce.

  48. Betty didn't apologize at the parole hearing because she isn't sorry about what she did.

    You have to admire the woman's chutzpah.

    My favorite tidbit from the whole sordid Broderick story is when Dan came home from an evening of screwing Linda with, um, the scent of Miss Kolkena's rather fragrant vaginal bits all over his hands. And Mr. Class Act then made sure that his wife, Betty, who was trying to sleep in their marital bed, got a whiff. He actually laid his hands, reeking like the dumpster behind the local Red Lobster, next to Betty's face so she couldn't miss out on the smell.

    Count du Money, indeed. Good riddance to both of them.

    1. Dan was a sick bastard. What he did was nauseating to say the least. Linda was well-known to not wash her little coochie so I bet Betty wanted to puke when she got a whiff of that. YUCK.

  49. Dapper Dan and Linda Vagina tormented Betty for years. They pushed Betty over the edge. It's time to release Betty from prison.

  50. I'm surprised she didn't kill them sooner. I believe Dan and Linda were trying to drive Betty to suicide. I hated Betty until I read a lot about her case and realized what an alcoholic psychopath her Dan was and what a total slut Linda was. Dan also abused animals but, of course, that was never talked about. Linda also was not known to be the most hygienic person around. Her nickname in the office was 'Linda Vagina' because she didn't bathe very frequently. Also, Dan never considered that he would have given Betty an STD by screwing a low life like Linda Kolkena? Nice guy, very thoughtful of him. Disgusting pair Dan and Linda were. Too bad Betty didn't let them self-destruct, which they would have. Linda could barely hold a job and didn't hold a candle to Betty's intelligence. Dan would burn himself out or someone else would have killed him eventually. I wish Betty would have risen above the abuse; she would have been a better person than Dan and Linda ever were.