Betty Broderick

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Betty Broderick
Born Elisabeth Anne Bisceglia
(1947-11-07) November 7, 1947 (age 68)
Eastchester, New York
Criminal charge Second-degree murder x2
Criminal penalty 32-years-to-life in prison
Criminal status Incarcerated in California Institute for Women (CIW)
Spouse(s) Daniel Broderick
(m. 1969–1986, divorced)
Children 4

Elisabeth Anne "Betty" Broderick (born November 7, 1947) is an American former suburban housewife convicted of the November 5, 1989 murders[1] of her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III, and his second wife, Linda (Kolkena) Broderick. After a second trial, she was convicted on December 11, 1991 of two counts of second-degree murder and later sentenced to 32 years to life in prison. The case received extensive media attention, and was extremely controversial. Several books were written on the Broderick case, and a made-for-TV movie was televised in two parts.[2]

Early life[edit]

Growing up in the New York City suburb of Eastchester, Broderick was the third of six children born to devout Roman Catholic parents, Marita (née Curtin) and Frank Bisceglia (1915-1998), who with relatives owned a successful plastering business. Her mother was Irish-American and her father was Italian-American. The Bisceglias were very strict parents, and much was expected of all the Bisceglia children. As Betty later recalled, she was trained to act as a housewife since the day she was born, or as she recalled "Go to Catholic schools, be careful with dating until you find a Catholic man, support him while he works, be blessed in your later years with beautiful grandchildren". This Catholic upbringing was bolstered by the economic conditions of the 1950s, where the Bisceglias expected their future son-in-law could work a lifetime of steady employment in one career until his retirement.[3]

Broderick attended[4] and later graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, which was at that time a small Catholic women's[5][6] college in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York, where she majored in Early Childhood Education, a degree she later earned through an accelerated program.[7]

Engagement and marriage[edit]

In 1965, Broderick met her future husband, Dan Broderick at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Dan Broderick was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the eldest son of a large Catholic family akin to the Bisceglias, and both his parents were descended from Irish immigrants. The couple were married on April 12, 1969, at the Immaculate Conception Church in Eastchester. Betty returned from her honeymoon pregnant with her first child, daughter Kim. She gave birth to four more children: daughter Lee, two sons named Daniel and Rhett, and an unnamed boy, who died two days after birth.[8]

Marriage breakdown[edit]

After Kim's birth, and after completing his medical degree at Cornell University, Dan announced his intention to combine his medical expertise with a law degree. He enrolled at Harvard Law School. Betty became the main provider for the family, working to support the family while Dan attended law school with the help of a student loan. Dan, an attractive prospect for many firms having backgrounds in medicine and law, was quickly hired by a law firm in San Diego, California, and moved his family to the nearby community of Coral Reef. He began to specialize in medical malpractice cases. Betty was able at this point to become a stay at home mother and focused on caring for the children, and on being a housewife. In the fall of 1983 Dan hired an attractive 21-year-old woman named Linda Kolkena, a former Delta Airlines flight attendant who had been fired by Delta for inappropriate behavior. She had been a receptionist in his building and Dan soon promoted her to his legal assistant, although she held no credentials other than a high school diploma. Linda Kolkena was of Dutch descent, and came from a large close knit family.

As early as October 1983 Betty Broderick suspected an affair and accused her husband of cheating on her. He denied engaging in extra-marital sexual relations with Linda Kolkena, telling Betty that she was "crazy." Eventually the marriage broke down, and against Betty's wishes, Dan Broderick moved out in February 1985.[2] He bought a house of his own, and eventually took custody of their children, after Betty dumped the children on Dan's doorstep one by one. Dan confessed to Betty that she had been right all along: he had been having an affair with Linda Kolkena since January 1983. Afterwards, a long drawn out and very hostile divorce proceeded. Broderick vs. Broderick became one of the more famous divorce cases in the United States, not least because of certain legal issues involving women who had worked while putting their husbands through graduate and professional school.

The long, drawn-out Broderick divorce was finalized in 1989, four years after Dan filed for it. Betty's behaviour became increasingly more violent and irrational. He retained custody of the children, though this was for non-financial reasons; he had been looking after them for some time. During this time Betty left hundreds of obscene and profanity-laden messages on Dan's answering machine, ignored countless restraining orders forbidding her from setting foot on Dan's property, vandalized his new home and even drove her car into the front door of his home despite the fact that their children were inside the house at the time.

On April 22, 1989, ten days after what would have been Dan and Betty's 20th anniversary, Dan and Linda were married.[9]


Eight months after buying a Smith & Wesson revolver and seven months after Dan and Linda were married, Betty Broderick drove to Dan's house at 1041 Cypress Avenue in the Marston Hills neighborhood of San Diego.[2] Using her daughter Lee's key to enter the house while the couple was asleep, Betty shot and killed them. The murders occurred at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, 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 apparently was reaching for a phone; one bullet hit the wall; and one bullet hit a nightstand. Dan was 44; Linda was 28.

Evidence that worked against her at trial was the fact that Betty Broderick removed a phone/answering machine from Dan Broderick's bedroom, so that he could not call for help. Medical evidence indicated that Dan had not died right away, and Betty admitted that he had spoken to her after she had shot him. Dan's last words were, "Okay, you shot me. I'm dead."

After contacting her daughter Lee and Lee's boyfriend, Broderick turned herself in to police, never denying that she had indeed pulled the trigger five times. Broderick's explanation at both trials was that she had never planned to kill Dan and Linda and that her crime was not premeditated. Her account of the murders at her second trial was that she was startled by Linda's screaming, "Call the police!" and immediately fired the gun.

Linda and Dan Broderick are listed as buried together at Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego.[10]


Broderick was represented at trial by criminal defense attorney Jack Early. Kery Wells prosecuted for the State of California. Broderick's defense was that she had been a battered wife, claiming that she was driven over the edge by years of psychological, physical, and mental abuse at the hands of her ex-husband. Wells portrayed Broderick as a murderer who planned and schemed to kill her ex-husband and argued to the jury that Broderick was not a battered woman. She had, after all, been getting $16,000 a month in alimony in addition to the salary she earned working at an art gallery. She was also living in a $650,000 La Jolla beach-front property that Dan had bought for her, she had two cars, she had a boyfriend who was living with her at the time of the murders, and she currently had her two younger sons living with her.

Dr. Park Dietz, for the prosecution, used the analysis of Dr. Melvin Goldzband, who previously worked on the case for the prosecution. Dietz said Broderick has histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders.[11]

Broderick's first trial ended with a hung jury when two of the jurors held out for manslaughter, citing lack of intent. A mistrial was declared by Judge Thomas J. Whelan. Betty Broderick was re-tried a year later with the same defense attorney and prosecutor. The second trial was essentially a replay of the first trial. Prosecutor Wells was more successful in the second trial, when the jury returned with a verdict of two counts of second-degree murder. Broderick was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 15 years to life, plus two years for illegal use of a firearm, the maximum under the law. She has been incarcerated since the day she committed the murders.

Broderick is serving out her sentence at the California Institution for Women (CIW), in Chino, 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.[12] She was denied parole again in November 2011[13]

In popular culture[edit]

An article about Broderick's case, by Amy Wallace, in the LA Times magazine, led to the production of a television film called (Part 1) A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story, and (Part 2) Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter (1992).[2]

Meredith Baxter received an Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Broderick. The murder was also dramatized in the season 4 episode of Deadly Women "Till Death Do us Part".

Both before and after Broderick's trials, her story was dramatized across the United States. Broderick granted numerous television and magazine interviews. She 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; Until the Twelfth of Never - Should Betty Broderick ever be free? [Kindle Edition], 2013, 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 Broderick was interviewed by Ladies Home Journal and countless other magazines.

The 1991 Law & Order episode "The Wages of Love" was partially inspired by this murder and the trial that followed. Guest star Shirley Knight was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Court cases[edit]

Betty Broderick was involved in numerous court cases, including the homicides of Dan Broderick and his wife:

Further reading[edit]

  • Ludwig, Robi; Matt Kirkbeck; Nancy Grace; Larry King (February 2007). Till Death Do Us Part: Love, Marriage, and the Mind of the Killer Spouse. Atria. pp. 23–35. ISBN 0-7432-7509-8. 
  • Taubman, Bryna (November 2004). Hell Hath No Fury: A True Story of Wealth and Passion, Love and Envy, and a Woman Driven to the Ultimate Revenge. St. Martin's True Crime. ISBN 0-312-92938-2. 
  • Stumbo, Bella (1993). Until the Twelfth of Never: The Deadly Divorce of Dan and Betty Broderick. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-72666-8. 
  • Marlowe, John (2009). Evil Wives, Deadly women whose crimes knew no limits. Arcturus. ISBN 978-1-84837-367-9. 


  1. ^ Lee, Cynthia (June 2003). Murder and the reasonable man: passion and fear in the criminal courtroom. NYU Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-8147-5115-2. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Luke Ford (2004). The Producers: Profiles in Frustration. iUniverse. ISBN 9780595320165. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  3. ^ {dead link}
  4. ^ Published: September 20, 1991 (September 20, 1991). "Marriage Gone Bad, Double Slaying and Hung Jury Leave a City Divided - New York Times". Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Hell hath no fury. (Betty Broderick, convicted of her husband's murder) | HighBeam Business: Arrive Prepared". March 1, 1991. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ Amy Wallace. "One Angry Betty - Features - Los Angeles magazine". Los Angeles Times Magazine. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ Stumbo, Bella."Until the Twelfth of Never".Simon & Schuster - Pocket Books; First Edition first Printing edition (July 1, 1993)
  8. ^ ibid
  9. ^ ibid
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Broderick's rage linked to disorders". July 7, 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ Ann O'Neill (2010-01-22). "No parole for 'Angry Betty' Broderick". CNN. Retrieved 2015-04-02. 
  13. ^ "Betty Broderick's Son Calls Her Dangerous At Parole Hearing". WFMY-TV News. 2011-11-13. Retrieved 2015-04-02. 

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