Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

Mr. & Mrs. Broderick

Betty's Communion Day
Betty's Communion Day

Young Elisabeth Anne, born in 1947, grew up in Eastchester, New York, one of six children born to Frank and Marita Bisceglia. Betty's world as an adolescent was middle-class tranquility, representative of a gray-collar neighborhood where the bread-earning fathers were painters, mechanics, electricians, firemen, policemen and, like her father, plasterers. Attending Catholics, the Bisceglia honored the laws of the church as well as the laws of government. Education, too, was a priority in the household. After high school, Betty earned a degree at Mount Saint Vincent College not far from the Bisceglia home.

"(Betty) was programmed from birth to be a wife, not only by her parents and the girls' schools she attended, but by her peers," writes Bella Stumbo in her excellent, well-researched Until the Twelfth of Never. "For Betty, it was a world without options. She lived at home throughout college, right up until the day she was married, commuting to school in a sporty little MG."

Dan Broderick as a teen.
Dan Broderick as a teen.

She met future husband Dan Broderick at a Notre Dame football game when she was 17; it was the first time she was allowed by her parents to travel out of town with friends. Betty fell in love instantly with the thin, dark-haired Notre Dame pre-med senior from Pennsylvania. Over the next three years they dated, he traveling back and forth to her home from Cornell Medical College, where he now attended, to continuously see her. He sometimes brought her with him to Pittsburgh to visit with his large Irish family. Both attended college, both had big dreams, both were clean-cut, fresh-faced kids from large families and were raised on the ideologies of hard-work-pays-off. They even loved the same song, Johnny Mathis' "Until the Twelfth of Never". The relationship seemed wrought in heaven.

Newly weds
Newly weds

A glamorous wedding ceremony took place on April 12, 1969. Judging from photographs of the event, it was a happy occasion for the bride and groom. As all young couples getting married, their faces in those photos reflect a preparation to spend a life together in bliss. After a honeymoon in the Caribbean, they returned to New York where Betty soon learned she was pregnant.

"From modest beginnings, Dan and Betty worked hard to build a life many would envy," reports Lexxicon, which conducted an interview with Betty in 1997. "Dan continued his studies while Betty worked multiple jobs and cared for the house and kids..."

Eventually, their struggling began to pay off. Betty enjoyed the reputation as an excellent mother and model wife. A beautiful, intelligent and talented woman in her own right, by all accounts she worked ceaselessly to create and maintain a near-perfect life for her family, an environment in which her children and ambitious husband could thrive. For a while, the Brodericks lived the American dream."

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