January 3, 2014

The Saga Of Betty Broderick

In 1969, Betty and Dan Broderick got married. They were a young, intelligent and good-looking couple; Dan was 25 and working at completing medical school, Betty was 21 and prepared to support her husband in raising a family.

During the next many years, Dan not only finished medical school, but decided to go on to law school, after which he became a respected malpractice attorney. Betty worked as a teacher and gestated, birthed and raised four healthy children. (A fifth child died at birth.)

Things seemed fine for the prosperous family until, in 1989, Dan hired Linda Kolkena to work at his law firm. Linda bore an uncanny resemblance to Betty...during Betty's younger years. Sadly for Betty, the years had not been very kind. She had gained weight and as the children grew, she realized that her world had been all about them. She seemed adrift from her marriage and her peers.

Betty suspected there was an affair between Dan and Linda. She begged him to tell her the truth and he repeatedly and consistently denied it. Then Dan asked Betty for a divorce...and promptly married Linda Kolkena.

Betty went into overdrive. She crashed her SUV repeatedly through Dan and Linda's front door. She entered their home and smeared Dan's clothes with food. She made phone call after phone call to their home, swearing crudely within the hearing of the children.

Dan simply started "charging" her for these behaviors, to the point that when it was time for Betty's alimony payment, she actually owed (according to Dan) something over ten thousand dollars for the month.

On November 5, 1989, Betty Broderick broke into her ex-husband's new house and shot him to death, along with his new wife. Linda was 28, Dan was 44.

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Dan and Betty, 1969
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Dan and Linda, 1989
 photo BBbook.jpg This case gained traction with the general public for a variety of reasons. First was the relative affluence of the players involved. Second was Betty's behavior: hysterical and narcissistic. Third was Betty's singularly unrepentant attitude. "I had to do it!" she exclaimed shrilly in court. "Don't you see? Dan wouldn't listen. I was just trying to get him to listen!"

And then there's just the fact of getting involved with other peoples' lives. That's generally where I come in.

The most thorough book about the Dan and Betty case, in my opinion, is
Until The Twelfth Of Never by Bella Stumbo.
There are also a number of free article online, this one is pretty extensive. But probably what got the most attention were the two movies starring Meredith Baxter, who managed to not only look like Betty Broderick, but to sound like her.

A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story was released in 1982, followed quickly by Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter. Both are available on YouTube.

Betty Broderick was tried twice. The first trial hung, the second found her guilty of second degree murder times two. She is eligible for parole; she was denied parole in 2010. The parole denial was for fifteen years, although apparently she can still reapply before that time. The parole board told her that she was "still bitter" and has not moved on from hating and resenting Dan and Linda. And Betty, true to her own self and nobody else, argued that she couldn't get money, couldn't get the children and her only choice was to kill herself instead but that she just "couldn't let them win." 

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Betty Broderick
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Meredith Baxter as Betty Broderick
One thing about this case is undeniable. There are no winners, only losers. And the children were the saddest victims of all.

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