It Was Simple: The Betty Broderick Murders
A history podcast from Los Angeles Times
These were murders that would turn any town on its head, but La Jolla, Calif? That rich jewel by the sea? Thirty years ago, a man and his new wife were murdered in their bed. That’s a long time for a double homicide to stay in the public eye and imagination, but these were no ordinary murders. The killer was the man’s first wife, Betty Broderick. Betty and Dan Broderick had looked like the perfect couple, right up until they weren’t. After four children and nearly 15 years of marriage, after the riches they both worked for were finally within reach, he walked out and began having an affair with his assistant. But divorce ended the Brodericks’ marriage only on paper. “Till death do you part” turned out to be the way it would ultimately end: bitter, savage and fatal. It took two criminal trials to send Betty Broderick to prison, and we’ll hear not only from her divorce attorney, but also from the criminal defense attorney who argued for her in two murder trials, plus the foreman of the jury that convicted her. So many things burned this case into memory: The principals were rich. The jealous killer was, for a change, the woman, not the man. It’s been the subject of TV movies and books. It’s resonated with two generations of Americans -- deserted wives, unhappy husbands. And it’s raised some questions about how divorce laws may contribute to what’s called the feminization of poverty. All of these issues remain critical and controversial in contemporary America today. Thirty years after five bullets, two coffins and one California prison inmate No. W42477, why can’t we look away from Betty Broderick?
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