Tuesday 13 June 2017

Murder Most Vile Volume 16

 18 classic true crime cases from around the world, including;

Angry Betty: Divorce can be an ugly business, especially when one of those involved is a raging lunatic with serious anger management issues.

The Craigslist Killer: A brilliant medical student with a gambling addiction hits on a killer idea to clear his debts. Log in, pick a victim, execute.

The Town that Killed Ken McElroy: He was a bully, a pedophile, a cattle rustler, a petty thief and a womanizer. But, as Ken McElroy was to learn, you can only push people so far before they start pushing back.

Numbers: A schoolboy with an unusual hobby brings down a killer in this harrowing tale of child rape and murder.

The Most Hated Mom in America: What kind of a mother goes out partying while her two-year-old daughter is missing, presumed dead?

Nightmare in Suburbia: When is teenager’s mutilated corpse is found dumped on a suburban street the race is on to find her killer, a drug addict with suspected snuff movie links.

Going Postal: An angry and disgruntled postal worker, one customer complaint too many, a workplace massacre that shocked America.

A Starring Role in Murder: One of television’s most iconic fictional detectives finds himself on the other side of the law, charged with a brutal homicide.

Click the "Read More" link below to read the first chapter of

Murder Most Vile Volume16

Angry Betty

Elisabeth Anne Bisceglia was born on November 7, 1947, in Eastchester, New York. Her father, Frank, worked in the construction industry and Betty grew up as one of six siblings in a stable, middle-class environment. She attended Catholic school and thereafter earned a degree at Mount Saint Vincent College, living at home throughout her school years. She met her future husband Dan Broderick at a Notre Dame football game when she was 17 and it was love at first sight for Betty. Thereafter they began dating with Dan frequently traveling back and forth from Cornell Medical College where he was a pre-med student. It seemed a match made in heaven and the beautiful young couple made it official on April 12, 1969, when they tied the knot. Then, after a honeymoon in the Caribbean, they returned to New York where Betty found out that she was pregnant. It appeared that things could not get any better.

Life for the newlyweds was no cakewalk, though. Dan had not yet completed his studies and Betty was working to support him. Fortunately, she was a talented woman with an appetite for hard work and a stand-by-your-man attitude. Times may have been tough but the couple lacked for very little during those years. Betty saw to that. 

In January 1970, Betty gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Kimberly. Thereafter, she almost immediately fell pregnant again, delivering another daughter, Lee, in July 1971. Dan had in the interim obtained his degree but just months into his medical residency, he decided that the life of a physician wasn’t for him. He wanted to become a medical malpractice attorney and enrolled at Harvard, bent on obtaining a law degree. Betty supported him in this decision. Before long they’d packed up their young family and moved to Massachusetts. There, Dan devoted himself to his studies while Betty took on the joint responsibilities of caring for their infant children and earning the money to pay for their food and rent. She could often be found going door-to-door in their Boston neighborhood selling Avon or Tupperware, with Kim on her hip and Lee in a stroller. 

Not all of the money that Betty earned went on necessities. While she and the kids made do with bargain basement clothes, Dan had a taste for the finer things in life. He was known on campus as “Dapper Dan,” a reference to the well-cut sports coats and silk ties that he favored. These, he told Betty, were the tools of his trade. If he wanted to make it as a high-priced malpractice lawyer, he needed to look the part.  

Early in 1973, the Brodericks were on the move again, this time to California, where Dan had earned a summer clerkship at a Los Angeles legal firm. He then decided that he wanted to move to San Diego where the competition was less intense. With his dual degrees in law and medicine, Dan had his pick of jobs and he eventually accepted a position as a junior partner with Cary, Gray. With Dan’s long years of study finally delivering a financial dividend the couple put a down payment on a beautiful home in the upmarket Coral Reef neighborhood. It was the next step on the upward trajectory of the Brodericks.

Not that it was all plain sailing. As a junior partner, Dan’s salary was a long way south of the kind of money he’d eventually earn. Betty still had to work. For a time, she taught religious classes at a local school and, in 1979, she obtained her real estate license. Betty didn’t really mind anyway, she enjoyed working, enjoyed making a contribution to her family’s wellbeing. It was what her middle-class Catholic upbringing had prepared her for.

So far the Brodericks’ life had been one of near unbroken achievement, a virtual parable of the American Dream. But the first dark clouds had already appeared on the horizon. Dan’s obsession with getting ahead in his career was beginning to take a toll on his family life. Not only did he put in ungodly hours at the office but he also began spending more and more time socializing with his lawyer buddies, something that he saw as mandatory to succeed in his profession. As a result, Betty and the children (who now numbered four) barely saw him. While she was home keeping house, he could be found either burning the midnight lamp at work or drinking in some Irish bar with members of the legal profession or with his fraternity, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. 

In 1978, Dan decided to quit Cary, Gray and set up his own law practice. Betty, as always, was supportive and her belief in her husband was well-founded. As someone who was both a qualified doctor and a qualified lawyer, Dan Broderick was eminently competent at his particular field of law. The practice took off immediately and grew exponentially. Even better for Betty was that Dan curtailed his social activities and began spending more time at home. If the marriage had veered off track for a time, it was back on the rails now.     

The next few years were generally good ones for the Brodericks even if they were punctuated by discord. Most often, the arguments had to do with money. Dan Broderick had always been a vain man and he continued to lavish money on status symbols and on his own appearance. In addition to the expensive suits he so loved, he paid for hair implants and for a nose job. He also stopped wearing his glasses and switched to contact lenses. Betty had no problem with that. What she did have a problem with was when Dan tried to tell her what to do with the money she earned from her real estate deals. Whenever she spent any of that on herself or on the children, he’d berate her for wasting money they couldn’t afford. 

And that wasn’t the full extent of Dan’s controlling behavior towards his wife. He intimidated her. So much so that she would become a nervous wreck in the hour before he was due to arrive home. She’d spend that time dashing from room to room making sure that everything was just the way he liked it. Not that she got much appreciation for her efforts. Dan Broderick, it appeared, had lost interest in his wife and at least some of that interest was being directed towards another woman.

Her name was Linda Kolkena, she was 21 years old and she was a gorgeous blond. Dan and Linda first met at a party thrown by one of his lawyer friends early in 1983. Then, Dan had surprised his wife by commenting to a friend about Linda. “Isn't she beautiful?” he’d said somewhat breathlessly. Betty had never known him to comment on another woman’s looks before.

At the time, Linda was working as a receptionist for another attorney, despite having no paralegal, or indeed, administrative skills. Prior to that, she’d worked for Delta Airlines as a flight attendant but had been fired over inappropriate behavior with a male passenger during a flight. None of that seemed to bother Dan. Shortly after the party, he lured Linda away from her current employer and hired her as his personal assistant.

Betty was suspicious from the start, but her friends told her that she was being paranoid. Dan was not the kind of man to cheat on her, they said. Subsequent events, however, would prove otherwise. While the Brodericks were vacationing in New York in the summer of 1983, Betty caught Dan making a whispered phone call to his assistant. She also found out that Dan had sent Linda flowers. When she confronted him about this, Dan refused to explain. He simply told her that she was imagining things.

But Betty was not so easily deflected. Her next move was to phone one of Dan’s paralegals and asked her directly if Dan was having an affair with Linda. The woman, perhaps deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, said that she knew nothing. However, she told Dan about the call and suggested that he should be straight with his wife. Dan did not take kindly to the advice. He fired the woman on the spot.

And then came the incident that would push the conflict between the Brodericks from accusation and denial into outright warfare. The occasion was Dan’s thirty-ninth birthday and Betty had decided to surprise him by arriving at his office with a bottle of champagne and a dozen red roses. But Dan wasn’t there and neither was his assistant and none of his staff appeared to know where they’d gone. Betty then decided to wait for her husband but neither he nor Linda returned that afternoon. Eventually, humiliated, Betty left. 

The drive across town was a distressing one for Betty, her emotions fluctuating between rage, sorrow, and a steely determination to show Dan Broderick that she was not a woman to be messed with, to be used and then discarded the minute the first doe-eyed bimbo paid him attention. By the time she pulled into the drive, she had decided what to do. She marched directly into the house, climbed the stairs to the master bedroom and started emptying Dan’s closet. Then she took a pair of scissors and began ripping and tearing the expensive, tailor-made suits that he loved so much. Finally, she carried the shredded mess out into the backyard, making several trips. As her stunned children watched, she poured gasoline on the pile and lit a match. Thousands of dollars’ worth of Dan Broderick's expensive clothing went up in flames.

Betty expected a reaction from Dan and she was ready for a fight when he got home. But he said nothing that night, not even raising his voice in anger about his destroyed clothes. Over the weeks that followed, Betty continued to harangue him, begging him to be straight with her. On the last day of February 1984, he finally admitted that he was sleeping with Linda. Not only that but he told Betty that he was seeking a formal separation. Thus were the battle lines drawn.

Betty was at first numbed by the realization that her marriage was over, that she’d lost the only man she’d ever loved, the man she still loved. But all too soon that numbness gave way to an almost uncontrollable anger. How dare he? How dare he shunt her aside after all that she’d sacrificed for him? Hadn’t she gone out to work to put him through college? Hadn’t she raised his four children? Hadn’t she forfeited any chance she might have had of building a career for herself? Adding fuel to the fire was Betty’s growing realization that Dan’s affair with Linda had been public knowledge for some time. All of their friends and acquaintances knew, all of Dan’s staff. She felt utterly humiliated. It was only going to take one spark to set her off and that spark occurred when Dan served her with divorce papers. 

Betty was by now living in La Jolla while Dan remained at the Coral Reef home with their children. One afternoon, having stopped at the house to visit her children, Betty spotted a Boston cream pie – Dan's favorite – on the kitchen counter. Learning from the housekeeper that Linda had dropped the cake off for Dan, Betty carried it upstairs and proceeded to smear chocolate cream all over Dan's bed and over the clothes in his closet. When Dan arrived home and saw the damage, he immediately had a restraining order issued to keep his wife off the premises.

But Betty, as we shall see, was no respecter of court orders. A couple of days later, she threw a wine bottle through a window at the house. The police were called but decided not to take the matter further. 

In the meanwhile, Betty was finding it difficult to hire a divorce lawyer in San Diego. Dan was well connected and had recently been named president of the San Diego Bar Association. No one was prepared to stand against him. Betty was forced to look further afield and ended up hiring Daniel Jaffe, a top-notch Beverley Hills attorney.

But Jaffe would soon have his hands full with Betty’s increasingly erratic behavior. She continued to vandalize her estranged husband's property, continued to verbally abuse him in front of their tearful children and astonished neighbors. Jaffe pleaded with her to stop, warning her that she was jeopardizing her chances of a fair settlement. Betty, though, was beyond caring. Her latest escapade was to enter the house while Dan and Linda were away for a weekend trip, and to smash windows with a bottle.

Returning to his damaged property, Dan finally decided that enough was enough. The restraining orders quite obviously were not working so he decided to use another legal device, a judicial order called an Order to Show Cause or OSC. Over the next year, he’d use this repeatedly to haul Betty before a judge to explain why she should not be held in contempt of court for violating the restraining order. The first OSC cited the Boston cream pie mess and the broken windows. Over time, there would be others involving a damaged toaster, a wrecked stereo, a smashed mirror, a broken sliding door, spray-painted wallpaper and countless similar offenses. 

The OSCs, however, had no more effect than the restraining orders. During the Christmas holidays of 1985, Dan took Linda and the children on a winter vacation, leaving Betty to stew with anger in her La Jolla apartment. Eventually, her resentment overwhelmed her and she got into her car and drove to Coral Reef. Breaking into the empty property, she began tearing up all of the presents stacked under the Christmas tree, tossing them around the living room. Then she smashed a mirror and left. 

In early 1986, not long after he came home to find that Betty had invaded his house yet again, Dan decided to sell the Coral Reef property. Perhaps he thought moving out of the home they’d once shared would somehow appease Betty. He was wrong. The baronial two-story mansion he bought in Balboa Park only seemed to antagonize her more. Not long after he moved in, she drove her Suburban SUV through the front door of his new home. This time Dan's usually restrained temper gave way. He vaulted the wreckage, pulled Betty from her vehicle, and began slapping her. The two of them were still at each other’s throats when the police arrived.

And this was an incident that was not going to be as easily dismissed as the previous ones. Betty was hauled off to a mental hospital where staff were forced to put her in a straitjacket as she continued kicking, screaming and cursing. She would remain in confinement for three days before being released, only to be served with another of Dan’s unending OSCs. They had no effect. Over the next three years, she’d continue to plague Dan with obscene phone calls, messages left on his answering machine, hostile confrontations and acts of vandalism.

At the same time as she was slowly being devoured by this maelstrom of hatred, Betty’s personal appearance was deteriorating. Overeating had buried her once slim figure under layers of fat, she never wore makeup anymore or styled her hair, her wardrobe consisted almost exclusively of baggy shirts and tracksuits. Her level of decorum had declined as well. Once she’d been a refined and cultured hostess. Now her speech was peppered with curses and obscenities, even when addressing her children. It would be fair to say that Betty Broderick was coming apart.  

Finally, on January 16, 1989, the battle between the Broderick’s reached its zenith when the divorce proceedings came to court. But again Betty’s actions raised eyebrows. On the eve of the hearing, she fired her lawyer, Daniel Jaffe. Then she failed to show up at court making it an easy win for Dan. He gained full custody of the couple’s four children, reinstatement of the restraining orders, and a ban on visitation rights until Betty voluntarily submitted to psychiatric care. As for alimony, Dan was required to continue paying Betty $9,000 a month, a pittance considering he was making well over $2 million a year. He also used his legal expertise to deprive his wife of a fair share of their joint assets. Most would say that he outright cheated Betty. In the end, multi-millionaire Dan Broderick was ordered to pay his wife of 20 years, the mother of his four children, the woman who had worked to put him through college, less than $30,000 in cash. Adding insult to injury, he announced his engagement to Linda three months after the divorce was finalized. 

In retrospect, it is easy to condemn Betty Broderick’s behavior. Divorces and extra-marital affairs are, after all, an all too familiar feature of modern life. Those involved are required by society to act maturely in coming to a satisfactory resolution for all parties. But that is to take all of the emotion out of a situation that is, by its very nature, emotionally charged. Each of us responds differently to these circumstances and, in Betty’s case, the response quickly spiraled out of control. Minor acts of vandalism built upon each other, escalating until eventually they drove Betty Broderick to the ultimate act of retribution. They drove her to murder. 

On the morning of November 5, 1989, Betty rose in her La Jolla apartment and shuffled into her small kitchen to make a cup of coffee. Slumping into a chair, she picked up a couple of letters lying on the table and scanned through them. They were just the latest in a long series she’d received from her ex-husband’s attorneys, warning her to stop harassing Dan and his new wife Linda or face the consequences. Betty had heard these threats before and they no longer bothered her. In any case, this was the day that they stopped. She’d been pushed to the end of her tether and she wasn’t going to take any more.

After finishing her coffee, Betty walked to her bedroom, quiet so that she wouldn't wake her two sons who were spending the weekend with her. She dressed quickly, picked up her purse and walked out into the early morning sunshine. The weight of the purse felt reassuring. It contained the .38 caliber Smith & Wesson she had just recently bought.

Sliding her overweight frame behind the wheel of her car, Betty started the engine and pulled away from the curb. Minutes later, she was on the southbound freeway heading towards awakening city of San Diego. She took the Midtown exit and piloted the vehicle through the quiet streets, not stopping until she pulled up in front of the attractive double-story in Balboa Park.

Betty had a key with her, one that she’d stolen from one of her daughters during a recent visit. But the key didn’t fit the front door so she walked around to the back. There, a twist of the handle gave her access to the house. Betty wasn’t thinking now. She was acting out a fantasy that she’d run through so many times in her head that she was operating on autopilot. The carpeted stairway took her to the upper floor. There she silently entered her husband’s bedroom and stood watching for a while as he and his wife slept. The bimbo was going to die first. She wanted Dan to know that his precious Linda was gone before he ate a bullet himself. Walking to Linda’s side of the bed, Betty pulled the .38 from her purse and leveled it at the sleeping woman’s head.

The roar of the revolver sounded impossibly loud in the carpeted room. The bullet slammed into Linda Broderick’s head with such force that it caused her to bounce on the bed. Then the gun bucked again in Betty’s hand and Linda lay still forever. Dan Broderick was rendered instantly awake by the commotion and had just enough time to register his ex-wife standing with the smoking gun in her hand, pointing it at him. He tried to scramble free of the sheets but was cut down by a .38 slug to the back. The bullet chewed through his innards and destroyed his lungs. He died within minutes, choking to death on his own blood. By then, Betty had already called 911. She surrendered willingly to the first officers who arrived on the scene. 

There would be two trials, the first ending in a hung jury and the second terminating in the best verdict that Betty Broderick could realistically have hoped for. She was found guilty on two counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive fifteen-years-to-life terms. That meant that she would be eligible for parole in nineteen years.

Today, Betty Broderick is Prisoner Number W42477, serving her time at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla. She has adapted well to prison life where she tutors her fellow inmates to prepare them for their GED exams. Her children don’t visit but she has a male friend who stops by every week. In January 2010, the Board of Paroles turned down her first request for early release, since she refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing. She was turned down again in November 2011 and January 2017, although she seems unfazed by these rejections.

“I am kept very busy in here,” she says. “I am very active in my ‘community,’ and serve on boards and committees. I am well-liked and respected. I don’t live in fear. Goddamn shame that you can only feel safe and free in prison! Nice society we have!”

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