Who Is Betty Broderick? Get to Know the New ‘Dirty John’ True Crime Story
After covering the grisly John Meehan story in its first season, Dirty John is moving to USA for Season 2 and dramatizing a decades-older crime saga: that of convicted double-murderer Betty Broderick.
In the early morning of November 5, 1989, Elisabeth “Betty” Broderick fatally shot her ex-husband, medical malpractice lawyer Daniel Thomas Broderick III, and his second wife and office assistant, Linda Kolkena Broderick, with a .38-caliber revolver as they slept in their San Diego home.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Linda died instantly. But Kim Broderick, daughter of Betty and Daniel, claimed Betty told her that Daniel lived long enough to say, “OK, you shot me. I’m dead.”
In court, Betty didn’t deny firing the shots but argued that Daniel had abused her during their messy divorce and custody battle. The prosecution, meanwhile, contended that Betty was a deliberate killer who felt entitled “to act out in vicious and extreme ways just because she was angry,” per The San Diego Union-Tribune.
A deputy district attorney presented evidence that Betty left angry and occasionally profane messages on Daniel’s answering machine before the murders and even crashed her Chevrolet Suburban through his house’s front door.
In Betty’s testimony, she said that just before the killings, she read a letter from her ex’s lawyer warning her to stop leaving Daniel obscene messages or she would face contempt of court proceedings. The letter left her fuming, she said.
To break into the house, Betty used a key she took from her daughter weeks earlier. She later claimed that she didn’t mean to kill the couple — and that she had only brought a gun to get Daniel’s attention.
Betty’s first trial ended in a mistrial in 1990, but the following year, another jury found her guilty of two counts of second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 32 years to life. She was denied parole in 2010 and again in 2017. “She has no remorse and zero insight into the killings,” Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs told the Union-Tribune after the second parole denial. “She just basically said, ‘They drove me to do this.’”
The former socialite, who is serving her sentence at the California Institution for Women in Chino, is eligible for parole again in 2032, but that date could be pushed up with good behavior.
The saga has been dramatized before, with Family Ties alum Meredith Baxter earning an Emmy nomination for 1992’s A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story. But now Dirty John is devoting a whole season to the horrifying tale, with Amanda Peet portraying Betty and Christian Slater playing Daniel.
“This second installment will be based on another epic true tale of love gone wrong,” USA said in a press release, “a story that spans the 1960s to the ‘80s, through the breakdown of a marriage that Oprah deemed one of ‘America’s messiest divorces’ even before it ended in double homicide.”
A premiere date has not yet been announced.