Oregon romance novelist’s alleged false confession to her husband’s murder never happened, says former roommate

Last-minute witness testimony expected to offer explosive proof that romance writer Nancy Crampton Brophy inadvertently admitted to killing her chief husband largely fell through on Wednesday as the murder trial draws to a close.

Crampton Brophy’s former prison mate instead described the comment as a simple verbal error.

Last week, prosecutor Shawn Overstreet told the judge he wanted to call inmate Anndrea D. Jacobs, 51, as a witness because she told detectives in an interview that Crampton Brophy said: “I was so far back when the shooting happened.”

Crampton Brophy used her arms to signify the shot was close range, then corrected herself when she realized what she had implied, according to Overstreet.

On the stand, Jacobs described the prison conversation as a barely perceptible slip.

“She started off saying ‘I’, but she went to ‘it’ very quickly,” Jacobs explained with a shrug. “She used the reach of her arm and said, ‘That was about this far. “”

Overstreet asked Jacobs, “Is that what you told detectives?” and reminded him that his interview with investigators had been recorded.

Jacobs repeated his take on the comment, and Overstreet quickly ended his questions.

Crampton Brophy is charged with murder in the June 2, 2018 shooting of her husband, Oregon Culinary Institute instructor Daniel Brophy, 63. He was found dead on the floor of a classroom, shot once in the back and again as he died on the floor, police testified.

Prosecutors say Crampton Brophy wanted to cash out $1.4 million worth of life insurance policies and avoid a plunge off a financial cliff.

The self-published author, who rose to prominence after her arrest for a 2011 essay titled ‘How to Murder Your Husband’, took the unusual step of testifying in her own defense earlier this week and said she loved her husband, did not kill him and was financially better off with him alive.

Surveillance video shows her driving near the school shortly before Brophy’s body was discovered.

Crampton Brophy said she suffered from retrograde amnesia as to why she never told police she was in the area when her husband was killed. The trauma of learning that her husband had died erased her memories of the trip, testified Crampton Brophy and a psychologist hired by the defense.

She also said she wasn’t sure what happened to a missing gun barrel she bought as research for her writing. Prosecutors allege the cannon was used in the shooting.

Defense attorney Lisa Maxfield had objected to Crampton Brophy’s former roommate testifying, but Multnomah County Circuit Judge Christopher Ramas cleared Jacobs to be airlifted from Texas, where she is currently being held. Jacobs and Cramptom Brophy shared a cell at Multnomah County Detention Center and Inverness Jail in Portland.

Maxfield hammered Jacobs on his criminal past. Court records show Jacobs pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return, impersonating an IRS employee and defrauding a bank in September 2020 as part of a plea deal that sentenced her to four years in a federal prison camp.

Maxfield said Jacobs embezzled about $1 million while working as a receptionist for an Oregon doctor between 2011 and 2015, then took money from another company while on bail. All charges were settled as part of the plea agreement.

Jacobs is also under federal investigation for allegedly fraudulent health insurance bills worth more than $200,000 as well as $579,000 in bankruptcy fraud, Maxfield said.

She noted that Jacobs was asking for a compassionate release from prison.

“You hoped that if you told Mr. Overstreet what he wanted to hear, your Medicaid record would disappear?” Maxfield asked. “That he would make your bankruptcy fraud go away?”

Jacobs denied cooperating in hopes of reaching a settlement, saying she had wanted to testify and now faced constant threats from fellow inmates in Bryan, Texas.

“The worst thing you can do while incarcerated is testify against another inmate,” Jacobs said. “I figured if I was asked questions, I wasn’t going to lie, and that’s the truth.”

Crampton Brophy’s trial is expected to go to the jury on Friday.

—Zane Sparling; [email protected]; 503-319-7083; @pdxzane