In Dirty John season 2 on the USA Network, the new true-crime focus is on Betty Broderick, the California wife and mother who killed her ex-husband and his new wife after a bitter divorce that garnered national attention even before the murders.
On the show, Amanda Peet plays Betty, Christian Slater plays her husband, Daniel, and Rachel Keller plays Daniel’s second wife, Linda Kolkena. Just as in real life, Betty and Daniel have four children, but on the show, the names have been changed. Here’s what you need to know about Daniel and Betty’s four children in real life.
The Real Names
On the show, the children are called Tracy (Lily Donoghue), Jennifer (Anna Jacoby-Heron), Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), and Anthony (Miles Emmons). But in real life, the Brodericks’ four children are Kim, who was born in January 1970; Kathy Lee, who was born in July 1971 and went by Lee as a child; Daniel IV, who was born in February 1976; and Rhett, who was born in February 1979.
Following the deaths of Daniel III and his wife, Linda, at Betty’s hands, the two younger Broderick children became embroiled in custody proceedings; the two older Broderick children were over 18 at the time and therefore were not part of the custody dispute.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Daniel IV and Rhett went to live with Daniel III’s brother Larry and sister-in-law Kathy at the time Betty was arrested for Daniel and Linda’s murders. But Larry and Kathy subsequently divorced and Kathy was granted permanent guardianship over the boys.
In a 1992 court hearing, Betty, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murders, asked that either of her two brothers get custody of Dan, 15, and Rhett, 13, because they had promised the boys a stable home life and college education. Jeff Mangum, an attorney for Kathy Broderick, told the LA Times that the boys would receive college educations and that they lived “in a stable and loving home.”
According to a separate LA Times article, eventually, Dan went to live with Helen Pickard, a family friend, for a while, then went to live with his oldest sister, Kim. Rhett went to live with his uncle, Gerald Bisceglia, Betty’s brother, in St. Louis.
Betty Broderick Was Pregnant Nine Times in 10 Years
According to Bryna Taubman’s book about Betty Broderick and the murders, titled “Hell Hath No Fury: A True Story of Wealth and Passion, Love and Envy, and a Woman Driven to the Ultimate Revenge,” Rhett Broderick was actually Betty’s eighth pregnancy since her wedding, two of which ended in miscarriages, one of which Betty terminated, and one where a baby boy was born who died shortly after birth.
She would become pregnant one more time after Rhett was born, in 1980, but, according to the book, after her doctor “warned that her varicose veins and other complications endangered her life, she decided to have an abortion and the surgery that would ensure she would not be pregnant again.”
During the trial, Judge Thomas Whelan ruled that Betty’s attorney, Jack Earley, could not mention the nine pregnancies, nor the miscarriages and abortions that ended four of them. According to the Los Angeles Times, Earley wanted testimony about Betty’s miscarriages and abortions to be included in order to demonstrate “what happens to a woman who has gone through that many pregnancies with a man. That’s a lot of hormonal changes.”
The LA Times also reported that at Betty’s first trial, which ended in a hung jury, a gynecologist testified that the Brodericks tried to have Betty’s tubal ligation (getting her “tubes tied”) reversed in 1984, one year after Daniel began his affair with Linda Kolkena, in order for Betty to try to have more children. The gynecologist was not permitted to testify at the second trial.
The Broderick Children Are Split on Whether Betty Should Be Paroled
In 2010, the Baltimore Sun reported that at Betty’s parole hearing, two of her children thought she should be released and two did not. Lee (now going by Kathy) and Rhett thought their mother should be paroled. Rhett told Oprah Winfrey in 2005 that his mother wasn’t a danger to anyone.
“She’s a nice lady. Everyone here would like her … if they spoke with her on any topic other than my dad. Keeping her in prison isn’t really helping her. She’s not a danger to society — the only two people she was a danger to are dead,” said Rhett.
Kim and Daniel disagreed, which is in line with what happened at the original trial.
According to the LA Times, at the original trial, Kim testified for the prosecution and Kathy Lee testified for the defense.
At the original trial, Kathy Lee said that her father had a fearsome temper and often called her mother derogatory names, reported the LA Times. Lee also said that her father would “break things that would frustrate him” or kick the family dogs because he hated dogs.
“Nobody would want to disobey him or make him mad when he was home from work,” said Kathy Lee.
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on USA.