Betty Broderick

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Betty Broderick
Elizabeth Anne Bisceglia

(1947-11-07) November 7, 1947 (age 72)
Criminal statusIncarcerated in California Institute for Women (CIW)
Daniel Broderick
(m. 1969; div. 1986)
Criminal chargeSecond-degree murder x2
Penalty32-years-to-life in prison

Elisabeth Anne Broderick (born November 7, 1947) is an American woman who was convicted of the November 5, 1989, murders[1] of her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III, and his second wife, Linda (Kolkena) Broderick. At a second trial on December 11, 1991, she was convicted 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]

Elizabeth Anne Bisceglia was born in 1947 and grew up in the New York City suburb of Eastchester[3] and was the third of six children born to devout Roman Catholic parents, Marita (née Curtin) (1919–2007)[4] and Frank Bisceglia (1915–1998),[5] who owned a successful plastering business with relatives. 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, when Catholic, and other, parents could reasonably expect that a son or son-in-law would be able to support a wife and children on his own income.[6][7]

Broderick graduated from Eastchester High School in 1965. She attended[8] and later graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, which was at that time a small Catholic women's[9][10] 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. Her credits also earned her a minor in English.[11]

Engagement and marriage[edit]

In 1965, Bisceglia met her future husband, Dan Broderick (1944–1989),[12] at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Broderick was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; he was the eldest son of a large Catholic family akin to the Bisceglias, and both his parents were descendants of Irish immigrants. The couple married on April 12, 1969, at the Immaculate Conception Church in Tuckahoe. Betty returned from her honeymoon pregnant with her first child, daughter Kim (b. 1970). She gave birth to four more children: daughter Lee, (b. 1971), two sons named Daniel (b. 1976) and Rhett, (b. 1979) and an unnamed boy, who died two days after birth.[11]

Marriage breakdown[edit]

After Kim's birth, Dan completed his M.D. degree at Cornell University. He then announced his intention to combine his medical expertise with a J.D. 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 was an attractive prospect for many firms that had backgrounds in medicine and law. He was quickly hired by a law firm in San Diego, California, and moved his family to the nearby community of Coral Reef. Betty continued working part-time, often selling Tupperware or Avon while being devoted to the children, as Dan still worked to build his business reputation. He began to specialize in medical malpractice cases. At the point when money was plentiful and stable, Betty functioned solely as a stay-at-home mom; she focused on caring for the children and being a housewife. In the fall of 1982, Dan hired 21-year-old Linda Kolkena (1961–1989), who had recently been terminated from her job as a stewardess on Delta Airlines [13] to be his legal assistant. She was of Dutch descent and came from a large, close-knit family.

As early as October 1983, Betty suspected that Dan was having an affair with Linda, and she 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 since January 1983. Afterwards, a long, drawn-out, and very hostile divorce proceeded. Broderick vs. Broderick became one of the more infamous divorce cases in the United States, primarily because of 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 the petition. Betty's behavior 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. She ignored countless restraining orders that forbade her from setting foot on Dan's property. She vandalized his new home and even drove her car into the front door of the home despite the fact that their children were inside the house at the time.

On April 22, 1989, Dan and Linda were married. Linda had been concerned about Betty's irrational behavior and even recommended Dan wear a bulletproof vest to the nuptials. However, Betty did not appear and the wedding proceeded without incident.[11] After the wedding, Betty claimed Linda taunted her by sending facial cream and slimming treatment adverts by mail.


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 near Balboa Park in San Diego.[2] Broderick used a key that she had stolen from her daughter Lee to enter the house while the couple slept; she 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 (17 days shy of his 45th birthday); Linda was 28.

Evidence that worked against Betty at trial was the fact that she 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.[14]


Attorney Jack Early represented Broderick at trial. Kerry 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.[15]

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 very successful the second time around, when the jury returned 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 her sentence at the California Institution for Women[16] (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.[17] She was denied parole in November 2011[18] and again in January 2017. She will not be eligible again until January 2032.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

An article about Broderick's case in the LA Times magazine,[20] 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) where Meredith Baxter portrayed Betty and Stephen Collins portrayed Dan.[2] Baxter received an Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Broderick. The murder was also dramatized in the season 4 episode of Deadly Women, titled "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 four 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?, 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 among 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.

Karen Kilgariff covered the case in episode 103 of My Favorite Murder, recorded live in San Diego.

The second season of the TV series Dirty John features the story of Betty and Dan Broderick, from the early years through the homicides. [21]

Court cases[edit]

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


  1. ^ Lee, Cynthia (June 2003). Murder and the reasonable man: passion and fear in the criminal courtroom. NYU Press. p. 48. ISBN 9780814751152.
  2. ^ a b c d Luke Ford (2004). The Producers: Profiles in Frustration. iUniverse. ISBN 9780595320165.
  3. ^ Biography for Elisabeth Broderick on IMDb
  4. ^ "Marita C Bisceglia (1919 - 2007)". AncientFaces, LLC. Retrieved April 28, 2018. Marita C Bisceglia was born on May 12, 1919. She died on March 23, 2007 at age 87. She was buried in Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery Section JJ Row 03 Site 42, Nashville, Tn.
  5. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths BISCEGLIA, FRANK J." The New York Times. April 22, 1998. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  6. ^ "Elisabeth Anne "Betty" BRODERICK". Lexxicon, Murderpedia. 1997. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  7. ^ Geringer, Joseph. "Betty Broderick: Divorce... Desperation...Death". Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  8. ^ "Marriage Gone Bad, Double Slaying and Hung Jury Leave a City Divided". The New York Times. September 20, 1991. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  9. ^ Neumeyer, Kathleen (March 1, 1991). "Hell hath no fury. (Betty Broderick, convicted of her husband's murder)". Ladies Home Journal. HighBeam Business. Archived from the original on October 27, 2014. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  10. ^ Wallace, Amy (November 1, 2009). "One Angry Betty". Los Angeles magazine. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c Stumbo, Bella (July 1, 1993). Until the Twelfth of Never: The Deadly Divorce of Dan & Betty Broderick. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780671726669.
  12. ^ "Daniel Thomas "Dan" Broderick, III". Find a Grave. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  13. ^ "Linda Kolkena Broderick". Find a Grave. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  14. ^ Moran, Greg (August 6, 2016). "'Your heart is still bitter,' infamous killer Betty Broderick is told in parole denial". LA Times. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  15. ^ Granberry, Michael (November 27, 1991). "Broderick's Rage Linked to Disorders, Psychiatrist Says : Killings: Dual-personality disturbances triggered her wild homicidal fury, a veteran of high-profile criminal trials testifies". LA Times. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  16. ^ "Inmate Information: BRODERICK, ELIZABETH ANNE". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  17. ^ O'Neill, Ann (January 22, 2010). "No parole for 'Angry Betty' Broderick". CNN. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  18. ^ "Betty Broderick's Son Calls Her Dangerous At Parole Hearing". WFMY-TV News. November 13, 2011. Archived from the original on November 1, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  19. ^ "Infamous La Jolla killer Betty Broderick denied parole". CBS 8. January 3, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  20. ^ Wallace, Amy (January 3, 2017). "Till Murder Do Us Part: Dan and Betty Broderick's divorce played out over five vicious years". LA Times Magazine.
  21. ^ Thorne, Will (September 9, 2019). "Christian Slater, Amanda Peet to Lead 'Dirty John' Season 2 at USA Network". Retrieved March 27, 2020.

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 978-0-7432-7509-5.
  • 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.

External links[edit]