Susan Reinert was an English teacher at Upper Merion High School, a district in suburban Philadelphia about 20 miles outside the city. When she wasn’t teaching classrooms filled with students who adored her, she was with her two adoring children, Karen and Michael. Susan was amicably divorced from her ex husband Ken Reinert. She seemed to have most of what she wanted in life – a successful career, two beautiful children, a loving and supporting circle of friends. The one thing missing in Susan’s life was romance.
In 1978 Susan began dating a fellow teacher, William Bradfield. Bradfield was eloquent, well educated, charming and a Lothario. Susan Reinert wasn’t his only partner. While she knew about a relationship Bradfield had with another teacher, he assured Susan he wanted to end his other relationship and start a future with Reinert.
In June, 1979, Susan planed a short trip with her children to Allentown, PA. She had a speaking engagement with an organization called Parents Without Partners on Saturday morning, June 23. She and the kids packed her car and left Ardmore on Friday night. By Monday morning Susan Reinert was found murdered, dumped in the hatchback of her car, which was abandoned in a hotel parking lot in Harrisburg. Karen and Michael Reinert were missing.
How could such a wonderful woman who lived a simple life wind up murdered, and in such a cruel, brutal manner? Who would do such a thing to a beloved teacher, mother and friend? It was’t just one person responsible for Susan’s death; there were two culprits – fellow teacher William Bradfield and Upper Merion High School principal Jay C Smith, who was under suspicion for the disappearance of his daughter and son in law. Smith was also arrested for armed robbery.
What unfolded in the months and years after Susan Reinert’s death played out like a Hollywood movie, and eventually that’s what it became. Joseph Wambaugh, former police officer turned crime writer, immortalized Susan’s murder in his best selling novel Echoes in the Darkness. In 1987 the made for TV movie based on his book aired on CBS, starring Stockard Channing and Peter Coyote as Susan Reinert and William Bradfield.
Join me and special guest co host Margo D from Book vs. Movie Podcast, the Best Neighbors Podcast, Not Fade Away Podcast and the Fit Bottomed Girls Podcast and Blog as we unravel this tangled and bizarre tale of betrayal.
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