The story of Betty Broderick, the San Diego housewife who murdered her ex-husband Daniel Broderick in 1989, was infamous long before it became the subject of Dirty John season 2. But while that act of mariticide is widely known, Dan wasn’t Betty’s only victim; his second wife, Linda Kolkena, was murdered alongside him when Betty broke into their house early on the morning of November 5, 1989. Kolkena, who had worked as Dan’s legal assistant before becoming romantically involved with him, was just 28 when she died. Read on for a primer on who Linda was and how she became involved with the Brodericks.
Linda Kolkena met Daniel Broderick at work.
In 1983, then-21 year old Linda was working as a receptionist at the office where Dan ran his legal practice. Betty soon began to suspect an affair, after apparently overhearing a conversation at a party where Dan called Linda “beautiful.” Dan denied he was having an affair, and according to Betty’s account in The L.A. Times, he refused to fire Linda when she asked. “This was just a phase, a bad time—too stupid to be true,” Betty wrote of her thoughts at the time. “That girl had nothing on me. I am prettier, smarter, classier; she is a dumb, uneducated tramp with no background or education or talent. He’ll definitely get over it.”
But on Dan’s 39th birthday, on November 22, 1983, Betty showed up at the office to surprise him, only to discover that he and Linda were both gone for the day. “I waited till like five,” she told the San Diego Reader, adding that in Dan’s office she found the remnants of a party. “They never came back. And that’s when I saw the refrigerator and my wedding crystal and all this imported wine. And the stereo. And his picture on [Linda’s] desk. Only it was a picture that was taken of him before we were married.”
Dan moved out of the home he shared with Betty and his children in February 1985. He and Linda got engaged in June 1988.
Linda and Dan married less than a year before they died.
On April 22, 1989, Daniel Broderick and Linda Kolkena married at their home in the Marston Hills area of San Diego. Linda, who had become increasingly worried that Betty was a real threat, asked him to wear a bulletproof vest at the wedding. He refused, but did hire guards to patrol the event.
After they were married, Linda reportedly tried “on several occasions” to obtain a restraining order against Betty, but Dan stopped her.
Betty accused Linda of sending her a poison-pen letter.
Unlike the bitter fight between Betty and Dan, which was extensively documented in court, the tension between Betty and Linda is hard to get a clear picture of. Betty hated Linda, and referred to her by various obscene names in voicemail messages she left on the couple’s answering machine. When Betty received an anonymous letter in the mail containing a picture of Dan and Linda emblazoned with the words “Eat your heart out, bitch,” she suspected Linda was responsible, although friends of the couple said this seemed out of character for Linda. Betty also claims Linda refused to return Betty’s wedding china.
Linda died in bed beside Dan.
On the morning of November 5, 1989, Betty drove to Dan and Linda’s house and let herself in using a key she had taken from her daughter. Carrying a newly purchased pistol, she went to the bedroom and began firing “real fast, no hesitation at all.” Two of the five bullets she fired hit Linda–one in the neck and another in the chest–while a third hit Dan in the back. Both were killed.
Five days after the murder, 600 people gathered for Dan and Linda’s funeral at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral in San Diego. “To us, she seems perfect,” Linda’s sister Maggie joked in her eulogy at the funeral, “but she wasn’t. She had a problem with punctuality.” Per The L.A. Times, Linda and Dan were laid to rest in matching wooden coffins, topped with white and red roses respectively.
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