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'Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story': A chilling true-crime saga of divorce, 5 gunshots and double-murder

Who is Betty Broderick and what is the true story that inspired the series? Here's the real story behind the eerie double-murder mystery
Betty Broderick (CourtTV/USA Network)
Betty Broderick (CourtTV/USA Network)

'Dirty John' stirred a wave of controversies after it opened the files of John Meehan's scandalous romance that turned into a spooky nightmare. In its second season, true-crime thriller, 'Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story' uncloaks the real story behind Betty Broderick double-murder mystery. 

Who is Betty Broderick and what is the true story that inspired the series? Born as Elisabeth Anne Broderick in 1947, she was raised to be a dedicated Catholic housewife. In late 1965, a chance meeting with Dan Broderick at a party after a football game between the University of Southern California and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, started a new affair.

An undergraduate at that time, he introduced himself with a note on a napkin. "Daniel T Broderick III, MDA," it read. When Betty asked the meaning of the acronym "MDA," he surprised her by uttering, "Medical Doctor, Almost." Soon, they fell in love and were engaged.

Four years later, the couple got hitched at the Immaculate Conception Church in Tuckahoe. They went for an exquisite honeymoon on a Caribbean cruise and by the time they returned, Betty was pregnant with her first child, daughter Kim. The couple was blessed with four more children: daughter Lee, two sons named Daniel and Rhett, and a son who passed away two days after birth. A full-time mother, she devoted herself to taking care of her children. Meanwhile, Dan got himself another law degree. 

Betty Broderick (CourtTV)

The initial few years were quite a struggle with a meager income and too many kids to support. The marriage soon started deteriorating until Dan got his first million-dollar case. Dan was continuously absent from his family duties and Betty often complained he spent too much time at work and then socialized with fellow attorneys. Soon, Dan hired Linda Kolkena as his secretary and started a secret affair that lasted three years while he was still married. 

Betty continually suspected it and Dan continued to deny it through the years. On his 38th birthday, Dan left Betty waiting and went out celebrating with Linda. When Betty found out, she set flame to all his expensive custom-tailored suits in a fit of rage. Dan moved out of their house and bought a new place along with the custody of his kids. After that, she became bitter and her anger grew to new heights. From leaving obscene messages to driving her car into his front door, spray painting his walls to smashing his windows, her actions turned increasingly violent. 

Dan kept a cool head and paid her $16,000, per month in alimony while living with his mistress. They had a legal proceeding, at the end of which, Dan was ordered to pay Betty $30,000 in cash and availed the custody of his children. If that wasn't devastating enough, he got married to Linda on April 22, 1989, 10 days after what would have been Dan and Betty's 20th anniversary.

Betty Broderick (CourtTV)

Seething with anger, Betty bought a Smith & Wesson revolver a month before their marriage and carried the gun with her most of the time. The tragedy occurred eight months later when Betty shot both Dan and Linda while they were sleeping. In the wee hours of November 5, 1989, at around 5:30 am, the murder took place, two days before Betty's 42nd birthday.

Using a key she stole from her daughter's purse, she entered the bedroom, and allegedly Linda screamed, "Call the police." In the heat of the moment, Betty fired five shots from the gun, two of which hit Linda in the head and chest, and one bullet hit Dan in the chest. His last words are rumored to be, "Okay, you shot me. I'm dead."

Reportedly, Betty turned herself to the cops soon after and said her intention was that she "wanted him to listen to her," commit suicide, and "splash [her] brains all over his goddamn house." At the trials, the attorneys and jurors presented different versions of the case.

First, she was posed as a perfect wife who suffered psychological abuse at the hands of her husband and then, as a desperate cold-blooded murderer who was out of her mind.

Betty Broderick (CourtTV)

Reports say that two jurors held out for manslaughter, citing lack of intent and one of the jurors was quoted as saying, "I only wonder what took her so long." Finally, Betty was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 15 years to life, plus two years for illegal use of a firearm.

Linda and Dan Broderick are buried at Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego. Imprisoned since the day the murders took place, Betty is still serving her sentence at the California Institution for Women (CIW), in Corona, California. "I allowed the voices in my head to completely take over," Broderick told the parole board, according to a CNN report. "I took the lives of two wonderful people who were loved by many." Her parole was denied in November 2011 and again in January 2017 due to a lack of remorse.

She appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show twice and gave interviews to all leading media houses. Moved from Bravo to USA Network, the two-part series stars Amanda Peet and Christian Slater and it will air on June 2.