Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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


Meaning to surprise him, Betty showed up at his office unannounced, toting a bottle of champagne and a dozen roses. A sullen-faced secretary told her that her husband was out, but she wasn't sure where. Linda Kolkena's office, next to Dan's, was empty too, Betty noticed. Waiting for Dan's return, Betty strolled the premises, espying crumbs of a cake atop Dan's desk, as well as empty wine bottles and balloons evidence that there had already been a celebration of sorts. Peeking into Linda's office, she saw a portrait of a teenage Dan hanging over the woman's chair. Neither her husband nor his "assistant" returned to the office that afternoon.

"She drove home, marched to the closet, and began ripping out all of his expensive, tailor-made clothes," Bella Stumbo attests. "Trip after trip she made to the backyard, as her children watched, wide-eyed. When the pile (of clothes) was high, she poured gasoline on it and lit the match. As the smoke billowed, as thousands of dollars of Dan Broderick's expensive clothes went up in flames, her children cried."

Despite the damage to his wardrobe, there was no fighting that night when he came home. He remained quiet, and the few words he spoke merely alleged, as they had alleged in the past, that she had an overactive imagination.

The Blackstone Ball again, but this time with Linda
The Blackstone Ball again, but this time with Linda

This time she didn't believe him. Even if she had again naively tried to muster up a conviction that it was her problem, not his, he kept reminding her, through his actions, that there was indeed a real problem named Linda Kolkena. Worse, she sensed that he was trying to purposely antagonize the situation. In bed, she would hear him muttering Linda's name over and over, as if dreaming of her but, she could tell, he was not asleep, merely pretending.

The last day of February, 1984, Dan finally confessed his affair not as an apology to Betty, only to explain it as the reason why he was seeking a separation. Prior to this, the family had moved to a rental house in the nearby town of La Jolla while their Coral Reef home was being repaired a large crack had been detected in its foundation. (Symbolic of the state of affairs in the marriage?) With the separation, Dan moved back into Coral Reef while Betty and the children remained in La Jolla.

Living virtually as if Betty were out of the picture now, Dan redecorated the Coral Reef home to his own tastes, not consulting his wife beforehand. He refused to spend time with the children and did so only when Betty was subject to forcibly dropping them on his doorstep. By law, he was obligated to pay the family bills, but threw her only a small "allowance" of his choice. And he continued to see Linda.