When Betty Broderick, 42, was dumped by her husband for his glamorous 28-year-old secretary, her rage was literally murderous.
The ‘perfect’ wife
When Betty Broderick married her husband Daniel on April 12 1969, she really did seem to have it all. She was confident and independent, had a university degree in early childhood education. She was quite a looker too, with her mane of long blonde hair and trim figure.
Daniel Broderick, it would seem, was a lucky man! But Betty knew she’d landed a real catch too. Daniel was handsome, fun, and studying for a medical degree of his own. So as they entered married life together, the future looked nothing but rosy.
Over the next few years the couple had four children together. But Betty had no time to sit back and dedicate herself full-time to motherhood. With Daniel enrolling at Harvard Law School straight after completing his medical degree, Betty needed to work to support both Daniel and their family.
She was the perfect wife. Loving, supportive, sacrificing her own dreams to help Dan further his. It was a move that paid off dividends. With both a medical and a legal degree under his belt, Dan was soon in big demand. The family relocated to San Diego, California, where Dan began earning mega-bucks as a legal specialist in medical malpractice cases.
Now Betty could afford to take some time back for herself, and concentrate on being a housewife and full-time mum. And a socialite too. By now the couple were wealthy and popular, enjoyed throwing glitzy dinner parties. For a while, life was blissful.
The younger lover
But then, in Autumn 1983, after they’d been married 14 years, Daniel hired a new secretary. Immediately Betty’s suspicions were aroused. Linda Kolkena, a 22-year-old former air hostess, was gorgeous. In fact, some said she was the image of Betty, 36, when she was younger.
Within weeks Betty had accused Daniel of having an affair. ‘You’re crazy,’ he told her. But was she?
Betty couldn’t shake the feeling her husband was being unfaithful, and soon they were arguing about it almost daily. By February 1985, the strain had become too much. Their marriage broke down and Daniel moved out into a new house of his own.
Worse, he then admitted to Betty she’d been right all along. He had been having an affair with Linda, and now they were going to be an item.
Betty was devastated, but her heartache soon turned to bitterness. She burnt his clothes on the drive of their house, and when Daniel used his legal skills to win custody of the children in a vicious divorce battle, Betty upped the ante.
Enraged she drove her car into the front of Daniel’s house, bombarded him with abusive phone calls, and on more than one occasion broke into the house – spraying paint on the walls.
Desperate, Daniel took out restraining orders to keep Betty away. But when he married Linda, in April 1989 – just 10 days after what would have been his and Betty’s 20th wedding anniversary, nothing was going to stop his ex-wife taking her revenge.
A lust for revenge
That revenge was extracted seven months later, when in the early hours of 5 November 1989 Betty drove to Dan and Linda’s mansion home. It was just before 5.30am when Betty pulled up and let herself in using her daughter’s house key. Tip-toeing upstairs, Betty’s heart pounded as her fingers curled around the trigger of a Smith & Wesson revolver she’d bought just eight months before. She knew where she was headed. To Dan and Linda’s bedroom. She’d trashed it before, smearing whipped cream on the bed and walls.
As unsuspecting Dan, 44, and Linda, 28, slept, Betty pointed her gun and fired. Two bullets hit Linda in the head and chest, killing her instantly. As Dan reached for the bedside phone Betty yanked it out of the wall and shot him in the chest.
Betty then turned herself in to the police, admitting she had shot both Dan and Linda, but claimed she’d never planned to kill them, and she’d accidentally fired when Linda woke and her screams startled her.
When Betty was arrested, the story became front page news across America. Incredibly Betty became the poster girl for betrayed women and cheated wives, with the headline ‘Hell hath no fury’ regularly appearing in the papers.
The image of Betty as the hard done by wife formed part of her defence in court. Betty claimed she was a battered wife, who’d been physically and psychologically abused by Dan. She claimed she’d been driven to the brink of suicide, and had actually driven round to Dan and Linda’s house to kill herself in front of them.
The defence said this was baloney, stating Betty had been well provided for by her divorce. She had $16,000 (about £12,000) a month maintenance to live on– a HUGE sum back in 1989. And she’d kept the $650,000 beach-front property Dan had bought for her, along with two cars. More shocking, she actually had a live-in lover at the time of the killing. So was Betty really the victim she made herself out to be?
Many women felt so, and crowded into the court cheering their support. At her first trial, there was a hung jury. They simply couldn’t decide whether Betty was a battered and broken woman, or a cold-hearted killer.
A retrial was ordered, and this time the verdict was conclusive – Betty Broderick was guilty of two counts of second degree murder, and was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 15 years to life, plus two years for illegal use of a firearm.
Betty’s story captured the public imagination – two TV docu-dramas were made about the case, and she was even interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. As this interview clearly shows, Betty saw herself as the victim of the piece.
An unrepentant killer
Despite several appeals, Broderick is still in prison. She has never expressed any remorse or admitted any wrong doing for the killings. Which is why her latest appeal for parole, in January 2017, was turned down. ‘Betty Broderick is an unrepentant woman,’ said Deputy District Attourney Richard Sachs, who argued against a grant of parole at the hearing. ‘She has no remorse and zero insight into the killing. She just basically said, ‘They drove me to do this.’ ‘
It seems Better Broderick, now 69, won’t be coming home any time soon…