The True Story of Betty Broderick, The Horrifying Murderer

The story of divorce and double homicide that captivated the public’s attention in the latter part of the 1980s and the mid-1990s involves the killing of Dan Broderick and his partner, by his former wife, Betty Broderick. 

Although Broderick insisted that she was a forgiving, truly abused spouse during the 16 years she was married to Dan Broderick before he abandoned her for another woman, she never admitted to committing the double crime.

Betty Broderick Tied the Knot with Her Soulmate

During a celebration held after a football match between the University of Southern California and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, in 1965, Betty Broderick encountered Dan Broderick, the man who would become her future husband.

They quickly became romantically involved and became engaged in a brief period of time.

Dan was a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was enrolled at Cornell University Medical School when they first started dating.

On April 12, 1969, the couple exchanged vows at the Immaculate Conception Church in Eastchester during an extravagant ceremony organized by Betty’s mother. 

They went on their honeymoon in the Caribbean before spending time in St. Thomas with friends. Betty Broderick returned from the honeymoon carrying their first child, Kim, who was born in 1970. 

She gave birth to four more children: the daughter Lee, born in 1971; the boys’ Daniel and Rhett, born in 1976 and 1979, respectively; and an unnamed child who died four days after birth.

What Marked the End of the Happy Marriage?

The couple amassed a growing fortune and were prominent within their social circles in San Diego. 

The stable marriage began to unravel as Dan became increasingly absorbed in his work. Betty Broderick lamented that Dan devoted a lot of time to work and interactions with lawyers, neglecting his role as a father and husband. 

Betty Broderick struggled with feelings of isolation as the sole caregiver of four children. 

The main conflict arose when Dan appointed Linda Kolkena as his partner in the mid-1980s, and they soon engaged in a three-year love affair. 

Betty suspected Dan of infidelity while Dan continuously denied it, further causing the marriage to deteriorate.

On one occasion, Betty returned home in a fit of rage after standing by Dan’s side the entire time as he celebrated his 38th birthday at the law office, only to discover that he was out with Linda.

To Betty’s astonishment, Dan eventually left the family home, acquired his own place, and ultimately gained custody of the four children. 

Shortly thereafter, he admitted to the three-year affair, obtained a restraining order against Betty Broderick, and initiated divorce proceedings. Betty was devastated and in shock.

It was considered one of the most acrimonious divorces in American history. It gained so much attention that the Oprah Winfrey Show invited Betty to participate in a segment about bitter divorces, but she declined all interview requests.

Betty’s bitterness toward her spouse became her fixation once Dan left her and the family.

On January 30, 1989, the divorce was officially finalized.

Dan Broderick, a multimillionaire businessman and the father of Betty’s four children, was ultimately ordered to pay her a 20-year debt of $30,000 in cash. 

Additionally, Dan regained custody of the children. Betty was utterly devastated and felt as though her life had been shattered.

Dan and Linda tied the knot on April 22, 1989, just ten days after what would have been Dan and Betty’s twentieth anniversary.

The Murder Case – What Led to the Deaths of Dan & Linda?

Betty purchased a Smith & Wesson rifle a month before Dan was due to marry Linda, allegedly as an insurance policy as she was now living alone as a single woman. 

According to some accounts, she often carried the weapon with her and allegedly threatened to shoot Dan while brandishing the firearm.

Dan and Linda were fatally shot in their sleep by Betty eight months after she acquired the gun and seven months after their wedding. 

The murder took place on November 5, 1989, at around 5:30 in the morning. 

All five bullets from Betty’s gun were discharged. Dan was shot in the chest as he was reaching for a phone, and Linda was shot twice in the head and chest, killing her instantly.

Another bullet struck the wall, while another hit a nightstand. Linda was only 28, while Dan was 44.

After firing the gun, Betty surrendered to the authorities and never denied that she had indeed pulled the trigger multiple times. 

However, Betty maintained that she did not intend to kill the couple when she broke into the house during her initial interrogation.

During the two initial hearings, Betty asserted that she never intended to cause harm to Dan and Linda and that her actions were never premeditated.

Following the preliminary inquiry, the following statement regarding the sequence of events was uncovered, ‘I was awakened by movement in her bedroom, and as I moved, someone yelled to call the police, and I said no. I fired a gun, which caused chaos, but I quickly grabbed the phone and left the room anyway, so I wasn’t in the room. It was just a blur. I moved, they moved, and then the guns started firing. It all happened in the blink of an eye, so fast.’ 

She acknowledged that Linda’s plea to call the cops upset her and that everything unfolded rapidly. She then fired a gun without any thought or intent, although she was unaware at the time that one of the bullets struck the couple in the dark room.

Final Decision

Betty Broderick received the maximum sentence permitted by law: two consecutive terms of 15 years to life in prison and an additional two years for unlawfully using a firearm. Betty has been incarcerated since the day of the murders.

In January 2010, her parole request was rejected by the Board of Parole Hearings due to her failure to show remorse or acknowledge her wrongdoing. 

The Murder Attracted Enormous Public Attention – Books & Netflix Shows Were Created About It

A TV movie based on Broderick’s life was produced, consisting of two parts: ‘Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter (1992)’ and ‘A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story,’ which aired on Lifetime. 

Furthermore, the murders were depicted in the Deadly Women episode ‘Together Forever’ from season 4. 

In a similar vein, the 1991 Law and Order episode ‘The Wages of Love’ was clearly inspired by the Broderick case.

When Betty’s trial results were announced, her story made national headlines. Betty was interviewed for nearly every TV show, journalist, and publication that approached her.

Betty appeared on Hard Copy, 20/20, Headliners and Legends, the Oprah Winfrey Show twice, and numerous other shows. 

Three books, ‘Until the Twelfth of Never: The Deadly Divorce of Dan and Betty Broderick,’ 1993, ‘Forsaking All Others: The Real Betty Broderick Story,’ 1993; and ‘Hell Hath No Fury,’ 1992, detailed her story, and Betty was interviewed by Ladies Home Journal and numerous other publications.

While some people may reflect on the events of the offense many years ago, others may have become acquainted with the tragic and contentious incident through Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, the second season of the Netflix series Dirty John.

What Are Betty’s Thoughts on Her Crime?

In her 2015 book, Betty expressed, “This was not the ending I envisioned for my family. From the very first moment of the day to the very last, I have unconditionally loved my children and still do. They were my top priority, and I dearly hoped they would have a joyful childhood.”

How Did her Children Cope with Their Mother’s Incarceration?

Two of her children spoke at the parole hearing and pleaded with the panel to release their mother. 

After being reprimanded by Betty’s other two children, the board was convinced to keep Betty in prison.

Despite their feelings about it, her family continues to visit her on her birthday, Mother’s Day, and at least once in late spring. 

In 2014, Kim published a book titled Betty Broderick, My Mom: The Kim Broderick Story detailing how she and her family coped with the situation.

In her memoir, Kim likened seeing her mother in prison to her father’s death as the “most excruciating pain and sorrow I could ever have imagined.”

According to Lee, she believes that her mother should have the option to spend her later years outside of prison, as reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

As reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune, Daniel Jr. stated that his mother should not be released because she still clung to justifying her actions at the same parole hearing in 2010.

Rhett expressed a similar sentiment to his sister Lee regarding their mother’s release from prison.

During an appearance on Oprah, he said: “She is a good person. If she talked to them about anything other than my father, everyone in this room would like her. She isn’t genuinely being helped by being kept behind bars. She poses no threat to society because the two people she was most likely to harm are now deceased.”

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