The story of Betty Broderick illustrates how a strong religious upbringing cannot always prevent acts of betrayal and violence.
Elisabeth Anne Broderick (née Bisceglia; born November 7, 1947) is an American woman and convicted murderer who was accused of the killing of her ex-husband, Daniel T. Broderick III, and his second wife, Linda (Kolkena) Broderick on November 5, 1989. At a second trial on December 11, 1991, she was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and later sentenced to 32-years-to-life in prison. The case received extensive media attention and was extremely controversial. Several books were written on the Broderick case, and a made-for-TV movie was televised in two parts.
Betty Broderick was born Elizabeth Anne Bisceglia 1947 and grew up in Eastchester, New York, a suburb of New York City. She was the third of six children born to devout Roman Catholic parents Marita (née Curtin) (1919–2007) and Frank Bisceglia (1915–1998), who owned a successful plastering business with relatives. Her mother was Irish-American and her father was Italian-American.
The Bisceglias were very strict parents, and much was expected of all the Bisceglia children. As Broderick later recalled, she was trained to act as a housewife since the day she was born, or as she recalled: “Go to Catholic schools, be careful with dating until you find a Catholic man, support him while he works, be blessed in your later years with beautiful grandchildren”. This Catholic upbringing was bolstered by the economic conditions of the 1950s, when Catholic parents could reasonably expect that a son or son-in-law would be able to support a wife and children on his own income.
In 1965, Broderick met her future husband, Dan Broderick (1944–1989), at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Dan was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; he was the eldest son of a large Catholic family akin to the Bisceglias, and both his parents were descendants of Irish immigrants. The couple married on April 12, 1969 at the Immaculate Conception Church in Tuckahoe. Broderick returned from her honeymoon pregnant with her first child, daughter Kim (b. 1970). She gave birth to four more children: daughter Lee, (b. 1971), two sons named Daniel (b. 1976) and Rhett, (b. 1979) and an unnamed boy, who died two days after birth.
So she gave him five children. If any woman gave me even ONE child, that would be enough for me to honor her forever.
After Kim’s birth, Dan completed his M.D. degree at Cornell University. He then announced his intention to combine his medical expertise with a J.D. degree and enrolled at Harvard Law School. Broderick became the main provider for the family while Dan attended law school with the help of a student loan. Dan was quickly hired by a law firm in San Diego, California, and moved his family to the San Diego community of La Jolla. Broderick continued working part-time, often selling Tupperware or Avon products while raising the children as a stay-at-home mom.
So she worked her ass off to help him with his career too! And yet….
In the fall of 1982, Dan hired 21-year-old Linda Kolkena (1961–1989), a former Delta Airlines stewardess, to be his legal assistant. As early as October 1983, Broderick suspected that Dan was having an affair with Kolkena, and accused her husband of infidelity. Dan denied having an affair with Kolkena, telling Broderick that she was “crazy.” Eventually, the marriage broke down, and against Broderick’s wishes, Dan moved out in February 1985. He eventually took custody of their children after Broderick dumped the children on his doorstep one by one. Dan eventually confessed to Broderick that her suspicions about his affair with Kolkena were true and a drawn-out and hostile divorce ensued. Broderick vs. Broderick became one of the more infamous divorce cases in the US, primarily because of issues involving women who had worked while putting their husbands through graduate and professional school.
In the Bible, it is written, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Dan Broderick was a hypocrite who didn’t deserve custody of his kids. Betty should have gotten custody, with Dan paying tons of child support and limited visitation rights.
The divorce was finalized in 1989, four years after Dan filed the petition. Broderick’s behavior became increasingly violent and irrational. Broderick left hundreds of profane messages on Dan’s answering machine, ignored countless restraining orders that forbade her from setting foot on Dan’s property, vandalized his new home, and even drove her car into his front door despite the fact that their children were inside the house at the time.
On April 22, 1989, Dan and Kolkena were married.
Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” – Matthew 5:32 I would assume the same is true if the genders are reversed. From a strictly Christian perspective, Dan and Linda had an illegitimate marriage. Dan should have been kicked out of the Roman Catholic Church. But Betty wasn’t helping with her vengeful behavior.
Eight months after buying a Smith & Wesson revolver and seven months after Dan and Linda were married, Betty Broderick drove to Dan’s house at 1041 Cypress Avenue in the Marston Hills neighborhood near Balboa Park in San Diego. Broderick used a key that she had stolen from her daughter Lee to enter the house while the couple slept; she shot and killed them. The murders occurred at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, November 5, 1989—two days before Betty’s 42nd birthday. Two bullets hit Linda in the head and chest, killing her instantly; one bullet hit Dan in the chest as he apparently was reaching for a phone; one bullet hit the wall, and one bullet hit a nightstand. Dan was 44 (17 days shy of his 45th birthday); Linda was 28.
The Bible also says, “Thou shalt not kill.” So Betty was a hypocrite too!
Broderick is serving her sentence at the California Institution for Women (CIW), in Chino, California. In January 2010, her first request for parole was denied by the Board of Parole Hearings because she did not show remorse and did not acknowledge wrongdoing. She was denied parole in November 2011 and again in January 2017. She will not be eligible again until January 2032.
Why the hell is parole an issue when it comes to a crime that cannot be reversed, like murder?
I’ve often heard that in conservative circles, women are expected to be chaste and men are not. I can’t see how that can be justified given this story above.
And it was not just Dan and Linda that were victims. Dan and Betty’s three surviving children also suffered. But I guess the idiot adults in this case never thought about them!