Elisabeth Anne Broderick, popularly known as Betty Broderick, is an American woman who was convicted for killing her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III and his second wife, Linda Broderick, who was known as Linda Kolkena.
During her trial the case became the subject of widespread media attention and was very controversial. Several books have been written about the case, and it has inspired several TV shows. In 2020, a miniseries titled “Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story” was aired about the murders.
Betty Broderick and Daniel Broderick’s marriage
Betty Broderick was born Elisabeth Anne Bisceglia in 1947 to Roman Catholic parents. She was the third of six children and has recalled being trained to be a housewife.
She said that she was taught to “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”. She went to the university where she earned a degree in Early Childhood Education as well as a minor in English.
Dan Broderick, on the other hand, was born in 1944 as the eldest son of a large Irish family.
The couple met in Indiana in 19465 and were married on 12 April 1969 in New York. They went to the Caribbean for their honeymoon, and Betty returned pregnant with their first child.
The couple had four more children, with their last child dying four days after he was born. After the couple got married, Dan completed his studies as a medical practitioner, and later announced his intentions to return to study law.
He enrolled at Harvard Law School, and took a student loan to pay his fees. While Dan was at school, Betty was the main provider for the family.
After he completed his studies, Dan quickly got a job with a law firm in San Diego, and he moved his family there. Betty continued to work part-time while raising the children as a stay-at-home mother.
However, in 1982, things changed dramatically for Betty and Dan once he hired 21-year-old Linda Kolkena, a former flight attendant, as his legal assistant.
Almost immediately, Betty suspected that Dan was having an affair with Linda but he continuously denied it. In 1985, Dan moved out after receiving an ultimatum from Betty. It came after hearing that Dan and Linda were going to events together as a couple. Betty told Dan to fire his legal assistant or leave her home.
He eventually gained custody of their four children, Kim, Lee, Daniel, and Rhett, after Betty took to leaving them on his doorstep one after the other. Afterwards, he revealed to Betty that he had been having an affair with Linda Kolkena and requested a divorce.
The couple’s divorce was a long and bitter one. It went on for five years and was infamous as the media followed Broderick vs Broderick. Their divorce case also shed light on the common situation of women putting husbands through school, who then turned around to make the women regret their decision.
By this time, Dan had become a prominent lawyer, and because of this, Betty believed that Dan made it difficult for her to find a lawyer who was willing to represent her, which then put her at a disadvantage during the divorce proceedings.
Betty also believed that Dan used this influence to win full custody of their children and deprive her of her rightful share of his income.
Throughout the course of their divorce, Betty became increasingly violent, leaving hundreds of obscene messages on Dan Broderick’s answering machine and violating restraining orders. She also drove her car into Dan’s home despite the fact that their children were inside.
In April 1989, Dan Broderick and Linda Kolkena got married in the backyard of their home. Linda was worried about Betty’s violent behaviour and urged Dan to wear a bulletproof vest. However, nothing violent happened that day.
Not much has said about Linda Kolkena in the books and movies that have been made about the couple since the murder case gained widespread attention.
Before Linda Kolkena was Dan Broderick’s legal assistant, she was a Delta Airlines assistant, who was fired for using “obscene language to another stewardess” and for “conduct unbecoming a Delta employee,” according to Hell Hath no Fury by Bryna Taubman.
In 1982, Daniel and Linda met in the basement of their office building. Daniel hired Linda as his legal assistant despite the fact that she had no legal expertise neither did she know how to type, according to Dirty John, the movie about the case.
Daniel offered her a salary of $30,000, which is equivalent to $82,000 today. When Daniel Broderick first hired Linda Kolkena, Betty told him to fire her but he ignored her request and kept her on as his paralegal.
Linda Broderick and Daniel Broderick marriage
According to Linda Kolkena’s sister, all Linda really wanted was marriage and a family. Just like Betty, Linda has been taught about the unflinching importance of marriage and children, her sister said according to Betty Stumbo’s book “Until the Twelfth of Never”.
Linda first met Daniel in 1982 and became his legal assistant. In April 1989, Linda’s dream came true as she married Dan seven years after they first met. After their wedding, Linda and Dan went to the Caribbean for their honeymoon.
She never actually got to enjoy marital bliss as Betty Broderick broke into the couple’s home and shot them both on 5 November 1989, killing Linda instantly, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner. Since Linda’s death, her sister, Maggie Kolkena-Seats has fought to honour her sister’s legacy.
Betty Broderick trials
Betty Broderick bought a revolver eight months before she killed her ex-husband and his wife. This incident happened seven months after they got married.
Betty used a key that she got from her daughter, Lee, and gained access to their house in the early hours of the day that she committed the murders. Medical evidence showed that Dan did not die right away, and Betty claimed that she spoke to him before he died.
After killing the couple, Betty immediately turned herself in to the police. During the trial, Betty’s defence claimed that she was a battered wife and claimed that her husband and his wife drove her to that point.
Broderick’s first trial ended when two of the jurors ruled that it was manslaughter, citing lack of intent. The judge ruled that it was a mistrial and another trial was carried out.
During the second round of the trial, the jury all ruled that it was second-degree murder and she was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 15 years to life plus two years for illegal use of a firearm.
She has been in custody since the day she committed the murders and is serving her sentence at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Chino, California.
She has been denied parole three times because she neither showed remorse nor acknowledged wrongdoing.
Betty Broderick and Dan Broderick children
Betty wrote in her 2015 memoir, “Betty Broderick: Telling on Myself”, that this was not the ending she expected when she started her family. She wrote, “I absolutely adore my children, from the first moment of the day to the last, and still do. They were my priority and I wanted so badly for them to have a happy childhood.”
Betty’s two daughters, Lee Broderick and Kim Broderick testified against her during her trial.
During an interview with Oprah, Rhett Broderick said that he was not surprised when his mother killed his father.
“I just remember thinking, ‘Wow.’ I wasn’t really surprised. On multiple occasions [my brother and I] went to my dad and said to him that we wanted to live with my mom, and that not having her kids was driving her crazy—and that she could do something extremely irrational if she didn’t have us,” he said.
The Broderick children remain close today. On National Siblings day 2020, Kim Broderick shared a family picture and wrote about her siblings, “My all-time favs. Couldn’t do life without you.”
Three of the children, except for Lee, have gotten married and had children, and they all keep in touch with Betty in prison.
However, they don’t all agree over the topic of whether their mother should be released or not. Lee and Rhett believe that she is no longer a danger to society while Kim and Daniel believe that she is too lost to be re-assimilated into society.
Where to watch Dirty John: The Betty Broderick movie
“Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story” focuses exclusively on the true story of betty Broderick, her ex-husband, Dan Broderick, and his wife, Linda Broderick. The show is available for viewing on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
Where is Betty Broderick now?
Betty Broderick is still alive today at 73 years old in 2021. She is still serving her sentence in a correctional facility in California.
She was denied parole for the third time in 2017. The parole officer said about Betty Broderick that “To this day she believes in her heart and in her mind that they deserved to die”.
In 2015, she published a memoir titled Betty Broderick: Telling on Myself, in which she told her own side of the story.
Betty Broderick’s story brings to mind the storyline in Tyler Perry’s “Acrimony”. Just as viewers of that movie could not decide who was in the wrong between Melinda and Robert, there are people out there who believe that Dan was in the wrong.
Betty and Dan Broderick were a happily married couple whose marriage turned sour very quickly then descended into violence.
As the couple were San Diego socialites at the time, the story rocked the area and captivated the nation. Several years after, Betty Broderick remains in prison and will likely be out in 2023.
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