While USA’s Dirty John explores the story of Betty Broderick (Amanda Peet) and the complicated relationship with her ex-husband Dan (Christian Slater) which eventually led to murder, it should be remembered that this actually happened.
For viewers still unaware of Dirty John‘s concept, the anthology series dramatizes a new true-crime story each season and in the case of Season 2, it’s The Betty Broderick Story. Spanning from the ’60s through the ’80s, the show depicts the beginning of Betty and Dan’s love story through the end of their relationship until Dan’s demise.
In real life, Betty and Dan met in 1965 and were married a few years later in 1969, followed by the birth of their five children. As they brought up their family, Dan attended medical and law school as Betty worked to support their brood.
After years of working hard, Betty was finally able to reap the rewards when Dan became a successful lawyer in San Diego. Things turned sour though between them when he hired former flight attendant Linda Kolkena (played by Rachel Keller in the series) as his legal assistant.
Deception and infidelity eventually forced their marriage apart and after a messy divorce, things only got crazier as Betty repeatedly went after Dan despite the arrangement being finalized between them in 1989. Eventually Betty took out her frustrations, entering Dan’s home with Linda whom he married in April of 1989. In the early hours of November 5, 1989, Betty shot five bullets, killing the couple in their bed.
After turning herself in and admitting to the killings, Betty plead that she wasn’t intending to kill Dan and Linda, but after going through two trials, the first of which was declared a mistrial, she was found guilty on two counts of second-degree murder and charged with illegal use of a firearm. She was sentenced to 32 years in prison with the possibility of parole.
Since her sentence, Betty has put in three requests for parole, first in January 2010, again in November 2011 and most recently in 2017. She was denied parole because she refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing as Betty’s case claimed she was a battered wife who was pushed over the edge by mistreatment after years of being taken advantage of. Still serving her sentence in the California Institution for Women in Chino, California, Betty won’t be eligible for parole again until January 2032.
Betty Broderick is currently 72 — she will be 84 by the time she’s eligible for parole again.