April 26, 2016

The Broderick Case: Was It About Money?

Linda and Dan, 1989

Betty and Dan, 1969

The Betty Broderick saga continues to be the most popular posts on this site.  For my previous posts go here and here.  It appears that the case still strikes a chord with many people, although opinions are as divided as Betty and Dan were.

A response to my original post on the case referenced Dan's greediness and suggested that perhaps if Dan had been more generous with regard to his settlement with Betty, the murders may not have happened.

So let's talk money and the Broderick case.

For what it's worth, I don't believe money was at the root of the murders. Let's put this into context.  It's true that Betty and Dan were living very well by the time he began an affair with Linda.  Betty had been a stay at home mother for years, rearing the children and keeping an immaculate home.  Prior to that, she had babysat and kept children to make ends meet while Dan attended medical school and then law school.  Yes, Dan got the education and it was his professional smarts that were bankrolling the homes, cars, jewelry and fabulous trips but without Betty's sacrifice and teamwork, he wouldn't have accomplished that.  By the time of their divorce in 1989, they had been married for nearly twenty years (although separated for the last few.)  Even so, Betty deserved a piece of the pie.

Prior to their divorce being finalized, Dan had been paying Betty an amount he deemed appropriate (albeit a hefty amount.)  Before you negate all sympathy for Betty, Dan also took it upon himself to financially penalize Betty for infractions such as leaving volatile messages on the answering machine and entering his home without approval.  Despite the frustrations such actions must have caused - - because Betty would often damage the premises - - he should not have had the right to deduct monies from her support.   Now, before you start feeling sorry for Dan, he did cheat on Betty for years while lying to her about it, all the while suggesting that not only was she crazy for thinking such a thing but she also needed to lose weight and do something about her appearance so that she would look younger.   So let's say they were both acting like jerks.

Betty had difficulty finding and keeping a family law attorney that would be willing to go up against Dan.  The legal community in general in a small one and no one in San Diego was willing to get on the wrong side of Dan Broderick.  Having dealt with a drawn out divorce myself, I can attest to feelings of frustration so great that you begin to feel mentally and emotionally unhinged.  Had I also had to deal with an ex who was an attorney himself and had connections all over the city that made my case difficult, I think I would have been on medication.  So I can imagine the stress Betty must have felt to not only be hitting the wall in an attorney search but going through these things when she didn't want the divorce at all.

Dan also allegedly sold their family home behind Betty's back, depending on who you believe.  I do think it's likely that Dan withheld funds and hid money from her but I also think that Betty did not want to deal with the sale of the home as it would firmly close the door on the marriage once and for all.

When a settlement was decided, with Betty of course not being happy about it, she was granted just over $16,000 per month.  That's a ton of money and this was in 1988-1989.  There is no reason she could not have lived very, very comfortably on that sum.   My opinion?  She didn't want to.  No amount of money would have pacified her because it wasn't about the money.  She didn't want the money.

She wanted Dan.  Not because she was in love with him because I don't believe she was.  She wanted him because she wanted the lifestyle.  She didn't want to fail.  And she didn't want Linda to have him.

Really, this is nothing new.  This same soap opera is playing out many times every day, although perhaps less likely by persons in their forties, as Dan and Betty were at the time.  What gets me though is why on earth Dan didn't change the locks of his house?  Not just at the end but years earlier, when Betty was leaving vitriolic messages on his machine, breaking items in the house and ruining his clothing?   Why didn't he tell her the truth when she confronted him way back in 1983 or 1984?   Why didn't he leave her sooner?  Why didn't he force the divorce sooner?

He was playing with fire.  Maybe he knew it, maybe not.  But it seems clear that he enjoyed tormenting Betty, if not the drama itself.     Just as Betty enjoyed tormenting him and Linda enjoyed tormenting Betty.  I said it in an earlier post but these adults were all acting like temperamental children.  Neither Dan nor Linda deserved to be murdered but neither were being very smart about antagonizing Betty.

I veered off a bit on the topic at hand but to state it briefly, I don't think money played a part in these murders.  Do I think Betty was humiliated by selling her La Jolla home?  Absolutely.  Do I think she hated living in a condo?  Sure.  Was she threatened by Dan?  Of course.  But I can't help wondering what may have been if she had just taken the alimony payments and kept her mouth shut.   She would have collected nearly $200,000 from Dan a year - -  that's nearly $400,000 in today's dollars.  Not a shabby bit of coin.

The bed, after
Speaking of money . . . did Linda fall in love with Dan because of his personality (despite the fact that he had a wife and children) or was it because of his power and money?  Did she fall in love with him at all or was she in love with what he could provide her with?

Was Dan in love with her?  Clearly money would not have been a motive for him but if he was in love with her, why did it take him so long to formally leave his wife, divorce her and marry Linda?  Did Dan ever love Betty?  (I'm guessing not.)

What do you think?  Did Betty kill for money?  Or partly because of money?  Did anyone in this twisted saga love anyone besides themselves?

The end result


  1. Hi. It's Emilia again. To answer some of your questions:

    I guess we’ll never know the full answers to the questions you pose, especially as two of three people in this story are dead and the other may have changed over the years and her answers today might not reflect how she truly felt 30 years ago.
    About the motives for Betty’s actions (i.e. murder), I think that rather than money per se, it may have been humiliation and, perhaps, the fact that she may still have loved Dan and wanted to hurt him for hurting her (I think you’re less likely to care if a spouse or lover cheats on you if you don’t have any feelings for that individual).
    About ‘who loved who,’ I think it’s reasonable to believe that Dan and Betty may have loved each other at one point: that is, just before their marriage and perhaps for some times afterwards.. Ironically, one source claimed that it was Dan who pursued Betty and that she was not interested in him initially. I think Dan’s love for Betty may have faded by the time Linda Kolkena came into the picture, maybe because their marriage was less than happy or perhaps because sometimes feelings can change or fade over time.
    About whether Dan and Linda ever truly loved each other, I’ve concluded that no, they did not. My first impression was that Dan felt head over heels in love with Linda and the feelings were reciprocated. Now it appears that he was most likely sexually attracted to her but that his feelings never truly went beyond that. I at first believed that Linda truly loved Dan and wanted him to ‘commit’ to her, but the fact that she slept with Steve Kelley just before she was about to get married to Dan (when she had already ‘secured’ Dan’s commitment or at least seemed to have done so) really throws a wrench in the scenario of a woman madly in love.
    I’ve never been married, and as far as I know, I’ve never been left for another woman (well, I did date a man who I discovered later was engaged to another woman; he had told me that he had had a girlfriend but had broken up with her). Therefore I can’t really gauge the depth of what Betty was feeling. Still, now I just wish she had collected her alimony and waited to see how things unfolded between Linda and Dan.

    1. Hi Emilia,

      I think all three of the main players in this mess were self-absorbed jerks. Not one of them seemed to consider the effect their combined actions would have on the Broderick children - - the youngest at the time was still somewhere around 8, I think.

      I don't believe Dan was in love with Linda. Maybe he loved her. He likely loved having arm candy and how this pretty young thing made him look and feel. But if he had been in love with her, I have to think that he would have forced the divorce from Betty sooner instead of "making" Linda wait around for 6 or 7 years.

      I also don't think Linda was in love with Dan but in love with the idea of Dan. She had invested a lot of years, waiting around for him. She wanted the brass ring of being Mrs. Broderick. And maybe she wanted to stick it to Betty.

      I've been cheated on and left by an ex for another woman. I can't even begin to describe how painful it is, whether you know it's coming or not. The betrayal, the destruction of trust is what is so crippling. Your emotions can go all over the board. What you thought was real isn't. Everything you think you know has changed. Your future feels uncertain. Your present feels uncertain. It's one of the worst feelings I have ever endured.

      So I sympathize with Betty over that. It had to be doubly hard because Linda was initially the receptionist, she was younger and she somewhat resembled a younger Betty. I mean, OUCH. And then Dan lying for years, telling Betty she was crazy, she was the problem, etc.

      I'm with you. I wish Betty had been able to find and stick with a good therapist that would have helped her work through her pain and anger and then just collect the alimony and thank her lucky stars that she was rid of Dan. For me, my ex leaving me turned out to be the best thing he ever did for me. I think Betty would have eventually reached that point too if she had only been able to let go of the anger and fear.


  2. Thank you for sharing. Again, I can sympathize but not empathize with you because I've never been married and/or (as far as I know for certain) been left for somebody else (I don't think the man I later found out had been engaged 'counts;' as he didn't leave me for his fiancee but probably intended to marry her all along while having a little 'fun' on the side).

    Again, I don't know for sure, but do you think that perhaps discovering an affair might be harder if the marriage seems to be going well? I don't know if Dan and Betty's marriage was really 'great' before Linda came into the picture, but my impression is that Betty didn't think Dan would cheat on her because he loved her too much.

    I agree that Betty should have seen a good therapist. Actually, I saw a counsellor once together with an ex-boyfriend (not the one I discovered had been engaged). Our relationship was rocky; I wanted to break up with him but felt guilty about it, whereas he wanted to keep the relationship going. In any case, seeing the counsellor helped us both understand our feelings, and in the end, we parted as friends (even though we gradually drifted apart). Obviously Betty wasn't in the same situation, but I think seeing a counsellor might have made her realize that, as one site that discussed the whole Broderick affair said, she didn't need Dan or his money. But unfortunately we'll never know...

    1. I think the discovery of an affair depends on the person more so than the state of the marriage. I think whether the marriage is seemingly going well or in obvious distress - - how the betrayed partner reacts is wholly dependent on that person. Maybe being unfaithful is just not a big deal. Maybe it's everything. Maybe everyone is entitled to one "slip." Maybe "slips" are unforgivable.

      I think Betty knew her marriage was in dire straits. Even before Linda there were reports of Dan and Betty fighting and arguing. The children remember her being angry over a Christmas gift she did not want. Dan spent many hours at the office. There are reports of his drunken clown behavior. This was all pre-Linda so something was not right in that household.

      I think Betty would have readily forgiven Dan the cheating if he had come back home and eventually given up Linda. Not necessarily because she loved him, because I don't think she truly did. I think she didn't want to lose her position, she didn't want to be the jilted wife. It seems like appearances were super important to her.

      Seeing a therapist was one of the best things I did post-separation and through my divorce. It's helpful to speak to someone who is completely unbiased, who has no dog in the fight, so to speak.

      I think that Betty did see someone a few times but felt it wasn't helping her. She either should have given it more time or found someone new.

      Oh well . . .

  3. I suppose some couples might have an 'open marriage' where they have their affairs on the side while staying in the primary relationship. I don't really have any moral objections to this if both parties agree to it, but I wonder how much this actually 'works.' Perhaps, though, some people get into open marriages because they're not really satisfied with their spouse, so they might be prone to breaking up anyway.

    Dan and Betty did not seem to have an open marriage per se. However, Betty might, as you say, have tolerated Dan's cheating if he didn't outright leave the marriage.

    I think a good therapist can have a real positive effect on people. Interestingly, I actually saw one when I was breaking up with a boyfriend. I was the one who wanted to end the relationship, but I felt 'guilty' about doing so. Speaking to the therapist, however, made me see how this relationship wasn't working. In the end, I think both my ex and I benefited: we parted as friends, even though we gradually drifted apart, with no hard feelings.

    I guess in the Broderick case, there were many 'what ifs:' what if Betty had simply waited it out (in which case she might have seen Dan and Linda's marriage implode); what if Betty had found out Linda had cheated on Dan with Steve Kelley; what if Dan had continued seeing Linda but never made any move to end his marriage to Betty. I guess, though, these questions can never be answered because they never occurred.