The IRL Feud Between Betty Broderick and Linda Kolkena From ‘Dirty John’ Is Beyond Dark

Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story is here to finally fill the mullet-shaped void that Tiger King left in your heart, and in case you’re wondering: Yep, it’s based on a true (crime) story. San Diego “housewife” Betty Broderick made headlines back in the late ’80s thanks to an insanely messy divorce that culminated in the murder of her ex-husband, Dan. But here’s the thing: Dan wasn’t Betty’s only victim. She also shot and killed his new wife (and former assistant), Linda Kolkena. And while it’s Betty’s name that dominated headlines, we’re here to talk about Linda’s role in all this. Let’s dive in, and warning: This gets pretty dark.

Linda Started Working for Dan in 1983

And Betty was, uhhh, not thrilled. According to a 1990 Los Angeles Times article, everything changed for Betty once Linda entered Dan’s life: “The people who knew me before 1983 knew the real me. Nineteen eighty-three was like an ax through my life.”

Betty suspected Dan was having an affair, but she wasn’t totally threatened at first. “This was just a phase, a bad time—too stupid to be true,” she wrote of their marriage. “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.”

Yeah…apparently not. Dan moved out, started seeing Linda openly, and they eventually got engaged.

Betty Claimed Linda Was Cruel to Her

According to Betty (who, let’s be real, isn’t the most reliable narrator), Linda trolled her with pics of Dan and an anonymous note that read, “Eat your heart out, bitch!” She also claimed Linda sent her ads for weight-loss products and wrinkle cream and even refused to hand over her wedding china. Meanwhile, Betty called Linda “disgusting and unseemly.” Yikes.

By the time Dan and Linda got married in April 1989, the situation with Betty was so out of control that Linda wanted Dan to wear a bulletproof vest at their wedding. They even hired security guards.

Betty Killed Linda in Her Sleep

We already knew this story had a shocking ending, so here’s where things get extremely tragic: Betty broke into Dan and Linda’s home in November 1989 and shot them both while they were sleeping. The San Diego County deputy medical examiner said Linda was killed instantly—unlike Dan, who, sadly, took longer to die. The couple were buried together in matching coffins days after their murders, and if you’re wondering what happened to Betty, she’s sitting in jail.

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