Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Betty Broderick: Divorce... Desperation...Death

Rocking the Boat

Hargreaves, who like Jaffe would not last long as Betty's counsel, did make an interesting observation in the short time he was involved with the Broderick saga. Hargreaves apprised that Betty was beyond legal help since she "couldn't understand that life was possible without Dan." As for his opinion of Dan, he found his drive to control everyone and everything "obsessive". Hargreaves hinted that he was worried about a violent conclusion to the Broderick battle.

The ladder was leading to violence and many who profiled the case after the fact have expressed their amazement that Betty, or even Dan who was slowly losing his cool, didn't lose full-balance throughout those last years of the 1980s when skirmishes took place between the divorcing parties almost weekly. Who really was the aggressor is debatable when confronted by common sense for both were equally chronic but in the hard definition of the law Betty clearly irritated an already aggravated situation. She slowly destructed, descending into a madness from which she would not awaken until it was too late.

Refusing to surrender her marriage and submit to restraining orders and OSCs, Betty rocked Dan Broderick's otherwise calm boat any chance she could find. Her attitude at the time had been to make his life as miserable as he had made hers and, somewhere, who knows, maybe in the back of her mind, she hoped that he would chock it all up and come home like a good little husband should.

Starting right after Dan set up home in Balboa Park in 1986, and continuing through and after the final divorce judgement in 1989, Betty conducted a campaign of whirly-gig obscene phone calls aimed not so much at Dan but at Linda (whom she knew would stay at Dan's quite frequently). The instrument she chose as her greatest weapon was Dan's home answering machine, leaving foul-mouthed tirades at all times night and day. Court orders and even a brief incarceration did not stop her; in fact, as ever, the more Dan's law struck back, the more impromptu and vehement her messages became. In a day there might be two or three, if not more, recordings left on his audio tape by the time he arrived home from work. Whether Betty was provoked by a custody-related issue, a financial entanglement, or merely needed to spew general anger, her wrath never seemed to cool. Often, Linda was the recipient of the calls when answering messages for Dan. She merely laughed them off.

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