Oregon romance writer’s alleged slip-up confession to husband’s killing never happened, former bunkmate says

The testimony of a last-minute witness expected to offer bombshell evidence that romance writer Nancy Crampton Brophy inadvertently admitted to killing her chief husband largely fizzled Wednesday as the murder trial nears an end.

Crampton Brophy’s former jail bunkmate instead described the comment as a simple verbal error.

Prosecutor Shawn Overstreet last week 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 this far away when the shooting happened.”

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

On the stand, Jacobs described the jailhouse conversation as a barely noticeable slip of the tongue.

“She started to say ‘I,’ but she switched really quick to ‘it,’” Jacobs explained with a shrug. “She used her arm span and said, ‘It was about this far.’”

Overstreet asked Jacobs: “Is that what you told detectives?” and reminded her that her interview with investigators was recorded.

Jacobs repeated her 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 lay dying on the floor, police tested.

Prosecutors claim Crampton Brophy wanted to cash in $1.4 million from life insurance policies and avert a plunge off a financial cliff.

The self-published author, who gained notoriety 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, didn’t kill him and was better off financially with him alive.

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

Crampton Brophy said she suffered from retrograde amnesia to explain why she never told police that she was in the vicinity at the time her husband was killed. The trauma of learning that her husband was dead erased her memories of the trip, Crampton Brophy and a psychologist hired by the defense testified.

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

Defense attorney Lisa Maxfield had objected to bringing in Crampton Brophy’s former bunkmate to testify, but Multnomah County Circuit Judge Christopher Ramas allowed Jacobs to be flown from Texas, where she’s now being held. Jacobs and Cramptom Brophy shared a cell at both the Multnomah County Detention Center and Inverness Jail in Portland.

Maxfield hammered Jacobs over her criminal history. Court records show Jacobs pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return, impersonating an IRS employee and bank fraud 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 pretrial release. All charges were settled as part of the plea deal.

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

She noted Jacobs is seeking compassionate release from prison.

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

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

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

The trial of Crampton Brophy is expected to go to the jury as soon as Friday.

—Zane Sparling; zsparling@oregonian.com; 503-319-7083; @pdxzane

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