Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Main Line Murders

Two Sues and Bill

Susan Reinert (AP/Wide World)
Susan Reinert
(AP/Wide World)

Susan Reinert was not an ugly woman. Neither was she the type to turn heads. With her thick, horn-rimmed glasses, a nose that was disproportionately large for her face, and a gap between her two front teeth, the petite woman was merely plain. Adding to the effect were her short, sensible haircut and a high-pitched, sometimes grating voice.

She had the insecurities that plague unbeautiful females.

Married to Ken Reinert, Susan was an English teacher at the Upper Merion High School, a respected public suburban school. She was intelligent and had graduated from college with honors. She and Ken had two young children, Karen, the oldest, and Michael, who was born a year later. The family resided in Ardmore, a nice suburb on Philadelphia's exclusive Main Line.

In the early years of their marriage, Ken served in the Air Force. Susan had adjusted well to being a military wife and enjoyed traveling as Ken was moved from a base in California to New York to Puerto Rico. She taught college English for a while in Puerto Rico, then stayed home after her babies were born.

Ken left the military in 1971. Susan decided to return to work and was pleased when she was offered a position at Upper Merion. She was a good teacher, well liked by most of the other faculty and appreciated by her students. She had a special interest in filmmaking and was the teacher to see if a student was interested in audiovisual matters.

However, in 1974, Susan Reinert was beset by a vague sense of uneasiness. She apparently felt that life was passing her by. This was, after all, the era of the sexual revolution, and radios were playing John Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Through the Night. "

A lot was happening in the world. But not, it seemed, to Susan Reinert, whose life was divided between instructing pimply faced teenagers and caring for her family. Where, she wondered, was passion?

She believed she found it in a fellow Upper Merion teacher, William "Bill" Bradfield. He was a ruggedly handsome, muscular man with intense blue eyes who sported a full mustache and beard. Bradfield was considered one of the most inspiring teachers at the school. He approached his subjects with an enthusiasm that the kids easily caught. He had started out as an English teacher, like Reinert, then added classes in Latin and Greek to his repertoire. He would eventually be elected president of the Upper Merion Teachers Union.

William Bradfield
William Bradfield

A man who enjoyed expressing affection physically, he was given to a lot of hugging. He was also popular with women and there was quite a bit of gossip about his amours. However, a factor in his popularity with women was that he did not give them the impression that he was just interested in sex. As Sue Myers, a fellow Upper Merion English teacher who lived with him put it, "I never felt he was out for a sexual fix." He seemed interested in women as people, in their ideas, values, and beliefs. He also tended to go after women who were not especially attractive. As an acquaintance cynically put it, "Bill Bradfield could smell insecurity and loneliness the way a pig smells truffles."

Susan Reinert was soon smitten with Bill Bradfield and the two apparently began a passionate, secret affair. The romance had to remain a secret because of Susan's marriage and Bradfield's cohabitation with Sue Myers — which was also a secret because Bradfield supposedly feared that they would lose their jobs if the school knew that two of its teachers were living together out of wedlock. Bradfield told Myers he was not ready for marriage since his two previous marriages had failed. Eventually, Susan would divorce her husband Ken.

But Bill Bradfield always denied there was romance between him and Susan. "I was never in love with Susan Reinert," he insisted to Loretta Schwartz-Nobel, the author of Engaged to Murder, "I never intended to marry her, and I was never her lover. I wanted to be her friend and help her." He described Reinert as much too "mousy" and pitiful of a woman to be attractive to him.

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