Season 2 of Dirty John is based on the real-life story of Betty Broderick, whose bitter divorce ended in a double murder. Oprah Winfrey had called the divorce one of America’s “messiest, ” and that was before Broderick killed her ex-husband, 44-year-old Daniel Thomas Broderick III and his new wife, 28-year-old Linda Kolkena Broderick.
Elisabeth Anne (Betty) Broderick was a California socialite from La Jolla and mother of four children. She was also convicted of murdering two people on November 5, 1989, and sentenced 32-years-to-life in prison. Daniel, a medical malpractice attorney, had gaslighted his wife into believing he was not cheating with his receptionist, Linda.
Broderick Confessed to The Killings
Broderick, who is played by Amanda Peet in the Dirty John series, confessed to the killings, claiming self-defense and saying that her ex wanted “to control me totally,” the Los Angeles Times wrote. Christian Slater portrays Daniel in the USA Network series and Rachel Keller assumed the role of Linda.
The former couple divorced in 1985 after 16 years together. Daniel had custody of the children and they constantly fought over money, with Broderick claiming Daniel wanted to leave her destitute. At the time of the murders, she was appealing a $16,100-a-month settlement.
When they first married in 1969, the Brodericks didn’t have much. Broderick stayed by her husband’s side while he went through medical and law school. By the time the ’80s hit, the SoCal couple had money and power, but Broderick wouldn’t enjoy the fruits of her husband’s labor for long.
Broderick Said The Killings Weren’t Premeditated
Broderick said she never planned to kill her children’s father or his new wife. “I had no idea I was going to do this at all. I didn’t know I was doing it,” she told the Times in an interview in 1990. Daniel reportedly was not afraid of his first wife killing him because he was her “golden goose,” he told friends. When she shot him, Broderick said his last words were, “OK, OK, you got me.”
On the night of the slayings, she couldn’t sleep and went for a drive. “When I left my house, I didn’t know where I was going,” she said. “Sometimes I would go down to the 7-Eleven at La Jolla Shores and get a half chocolate-half coffee and go down and walk on the beach. I thought maybe I would do that. But then I didn’t. I went to his house.”
Dirty John creator Alexandra Cunningham was inspired to tell Broderick’s story because there were parts of it that everyone could relate to. “We can all relate to wanting to be loved, wanting to trust, and wanting not to believe that the person that you love and trust could be your worst enemy,” Cunningham told Entertainment Weekly.
She’s not going to be the last angry person who didn’t get as much love as she needed. Who embarrassed her friends and made them avoid her because she was so angry and she couldn’t let things go. She’s not going to be the last person who shoots and kills people because she feels like she doesn’t have an identity anymore.
Don’t miss Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story when Cunningham’s version of the true-crime murder debuts on Tuesday, June 2 at 9 p.m. ET on USA Network.