I'm a Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.
1. Til Murder Do Us Part (1992)
For almost 20 years, Betty Broderick supported her husband as he worked his way through law school. Through nine pregnancies, four which resulted in live births, she worked two jobs to keep their family afloat.
And how was she thanked in the end? Betty was traded in for a newer model: 19 year old Linda Kolkena.
Betty was outraged, just as most women would be. And Dan Broderick‘s arrogant legal maneuverings in an effort to keep the majority of marital assets did nothing to assuage her anger.
For four years the courtroom battles raged; Dan refusing to accept any responsibility for his wife’s outrage at being replaced, Betty refusing to move on with her life.
Between the desperate grabs for the family wealth and the use of children as pawns in their divorce game, the Brodericks were a perfect storm brewing in the community of La Jolla, California, which all came to a catastrophic, yet unsurprising, end on November 5, 1989.
Author Bella Stumbo chronicles the life and deadly divorce of Dan and Betty Broderick; a case that would ignite a nationwide debate about women’s rights and infidelity in her book Until the Twelfth of Never and is the best resource for learning more about this fascinating California case.
The following movie, originally aired as a two-part series titled A Woman Scorned and Her Final Fury, is based solely on the Dan Broderick's brother's recollection of events and as such is extremely biased against Betty while painting Dan in a very favorable light.
2. Small Sacrifices (1989)
Diane Downs was described by many men as sexy and seductive, and by just as many as insanely jealous and possessive – especially true for Lew Lewiston, a fellow mail carrier in Arizona.
Although he was married, Lewiston had been involved in a torrid affair with Diane but had grown weary of her high maintenance personality and the demands she had placed on him. And, truth be told, he just didn’t want to be a father and Diane had three kids. He’d had a vasectomy at age 21 to avoid such.
When, in a last ditch effort to save their relationship, Diane moved to Oregon as an ultimatum to Lewiston to leave his wife, he was relieved.
Soon enough Diane realized her lover wasn’t coming to Oregon, he had chosen his wife over her. Diane was heartbroken and desperate to change Lewiston’s mind.
On May 19, 1983, Diane Downs sped up to the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital, seeking help for her children whom she claimed had been shot by an intended carjacker. Three children would enter the hospital, only two would leave but only after many, many months.
Could Diane have killed her children to lure Lew to Oregon? Would a mother rid herself of children for a man who never wanted to be a father?
The movie and book coincide perfectly.
3. Deadly Matrimony
Alan Masters was a successful attorney in Chicago when he began an affair with Dianne Turner Mueller, who had come to him seeking a divorce from her husband while he was serving in Vietnam.
Alan gave Dianne the life she had always dreamed of with expensive clothes, exotic trips, and a luxurious home. Although Alan was quick tempered, sometimes violent, and obviously involved in numerous illicit activities, Dianne was willing to overlook them to preserve her new lifestyle.
In March 1980, following the birth of his and Dianne’s daughter almost 3 years before and the day after his divorce was finalized from his first wife, Alan wed Dianne. It was short lived and not a marriage made in Heaven.
Before the couple celebrated their 2 year anniversary, Dianne was in love with colleague Jim Koscielniak and was planning to divorce Alan.
Whether it was because he was angry about the affair or feared his illegal dealings would be exposed during divorce hearings, no one may ever know but what is certain is that Dianne was murdered on March 19, 1982; eliminating all of Alan’s fears.
This is where the story becomes extremely twisted and sordid with police cover-ups, political corruptions, Mafia ties, and conspiracy theories. It a shameful tale from behind the Mansion walls of the rich and famous about domestic violence, greed, and secretive sexual excursions.
4. Seduced by Madness (1996)
After his wife died in a car accident, Ruben Borchardt felt strongly his children needed a mother. Instead he got the abusive wench Diane and soon found himself stuck in a loveless, miserable marriage. It's not much of a surprise when Ruben falls in love with married neighbor Claire Brown while helping her remodel her kitchen.
As the two profess their feelings for one another and make plans to leave their respective marriages,Diane finds out and is enraged. She doesn't necessarily want Ruben but she sure doesn't want anyone else to have him.
Employed as a Wisconsin high school's teacher's aide, Diane begins feigning sadness at school to garner the sympathy of students. She gets particularly close to one student: Doug Vest. She tells Doug about her marital woes, claiming Ruben is an adulterer and physically abusive to her and the children.
Doug believes every word of this older woman but when Diane proposes he could kill her ex-husband for her, Doug is hesitant. Until Diane promises him $20,000 from Ruben's life insurance. The five figures are extremely attempting to the troubled teenager and he agrees.
Of course, recruiting a teenager to do the dirty work you're too cowardly to do is never a good idea and will always result in getting caught, as we see in the 1996 Lifetime movie Seduced by Madness.
© 2016 Kim Bryan