Hell has no great a fury as a woman scorned is William Congreve’s famous misquote, but we get the idea. Betty Broderick, the scorned ex-wife and former American suburban housewife of a successful lawyer in La Jolla, San Diego, did not. The Broderick story was typical: Betty was a beautiful woman when her husband, Dan Broderick, married her some years earlier, but by middle age Betty was no beauty, carrying significant added pounds and expressing unbridled bitterness towards Dan for working long hours and not being at home. Eventually Dan began an affair with a beautiful, young woman who bore an eerie resemblance to a younger Betty.
Dan denied the affair until after 3 years he asked his wife for a divorce. She refused but Dan moved out of their home and began legal proceedings to dissolve the marriage so he could marry his mistress, Linda Kolkena. The situation overwhelmed Betty. Knowing she should accept fate, she could not control the anger that had been building inside her. She harassed Dan and Linda day and night: she broke into their home and vandalized it; she called them on the phone at all hours, snarling obscenities about the relationship to anyone who answered, including her children. Throughout the divorce, Betty’s behavior became increasingly violent. watch american justice ep 11 betty broderick
Broderick vs. Broderick became one of the most notorious divorces in the United States, gaining so much notoriety that the Oprah Winfrey Show contacted Betty to secure an interview about acrimonious divorces. Betty declined. Finally after 4 years the Broderick divorce was finalized. Dan purposely dragged the divorce out for four years. Under California divorce law, the supporting spouse (Dan), may financially charge the dependent spouse (Betty), not from the date of divorce, but from the date of separation. Dan Broderick, multi-millionaire and the father of Betty’s four children, only paid his wife of 20 years less than $30,000 in cash. In addition, Dan was re-awarded custody of the children.
By 1988, nothing of the once-proud Betty remained. Her mind frayed, she let everything else go haywire. “It was (now) a radically changed Betty Broderick abroad in the streets of La Jolla,” explains Bella Stumbo. “All personal vanity was gone, buried beneath layers of fat. Her language was now so routinely crude, even in polite gatherings, that old friends…lectured her about her foul mouth…By then she was pacing the floors of her house all night…Her mind gave her no rest; the late-night demons besetting her were relentless, vicious…” watch american justice ep. 11 betty broderick
Seven months after Dan and Linda were married, Betty shot and killed the couple in their home while they slept. The murder occurred at 5:30 am on the morning of November 5, 1989, two days before Betty’s 42nd birthday. Two bullets hit Linda in the head and chest, killing her instantly. One bullet hit Dan in the chest as he reached for a phone, one bullet hit the wall, and one bullet hit a night stand. At her trial, Betty denied that she had planned on murdering the couple. When asked why she had brought a handgun into the home that night, she replied “because I wanted him to listen to me.” She claimed that if he wouldn’t, she would commit suicide and “splash [her] brains all over his goddamn house.” Betty’s trial ended in a hung jury when two of the jurors cited lack of intent. watch betty broderick trial testimony
The second trial ended with a verdict of two counts of second-degree murder. Betty was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 15 years to life, the maximum under the law. Betty has been incarcerated since the day she committed the murders. Betty Broderick is serving out her sentence at the California Institution for Women (CIW), in Corona, California. In January 2010, her first request for parole was denied by the Board of Parole Hearings because she did not show remorse and did not acknowledge wrongdoing. Broderick is due to be released in 2021 and can reapply for parole in 2013. watch broderick parole hearing
Betty’s story was dramatized across the United States. Betty granted interviews to virtually every television show, reporter, and magazine who contacted her. Betty appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show twice, Hard Copy, 20/20, and Headliners and Legends. At least three books were written about her story (Until the Twelfth of Never: The Deadly Divorce of Dan and Betty Broderick, 1993, by Bella Stumbo; Forsaking All Others: The Real Betty Broderick Story, 1993, by Loretta Schwartz-Nobel; Hell Hath No Fury, 1992, by Bryna Taubman), and Betty was interviewed by Ladies Home Journal and countless other magazines. watch betty broderick blasts justice system in a letter