Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Main Line Murders

Fatal Weekend

Bill Bradfield planned to spend the summer of 1979 taking courses at the prestigious St. John's college in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Before he went there, however, he wanted a relaxing vacation on the beach. All this business of protecting Reinert from Smith was wearing him down. Moreover, there was another reason for him to get out of town, he claimed. Smith was going to prison for the Sears robberies and was planning to murder her right before incarceration took her out of his reach. "If he murders her and I'm around," Bradfield complained to his friends, "I could be a suspect because of that silly will." His friends already knew of the sad woman's attempts to entrap the bearded teacher by naming him as beneficiary in her will.

He simply had to have people around him that weekend. So Meyers, Pappas and Valaitis agreed to accompany him to the shore on the evening of Friday, June 22, 1979.

Earlier that day, at Bradfield's request, Wendy went to their safety deposit box and made withdrew all the money in it

That same Friday, a neighbor saw Susan Reinert and her kids hurrying to their car, about 15 minutes after hearing the phone ring in Reinert's home. It was a gloomy evening at about 9:20. A hailstorm had just begun, and the neighbor remembered hoping nothing would happen to Reinert and her kids as they drove in such terrible weather.

Where Susan Reinert drove to will probably never be known for certain. It is known that she met with at least two people. They beat her brutally, leaving massive bruises and scratches on her body including a deep black eye, stripped her naked, then bound her with chain. She may have been dragged a small distance with that chain. She was not immediately killed. Indeed, medical estimates would place her death at 24 to 36 hours after the beating.

During that time, she may have seen her beloved children being murdered. Perhaps she even witnessed the destruction of their bodies. The physical and mental torment she must have endured during those extraordinary hours of bondage defies imagination.

Finally, she was killed with a lethal injection of morphine between 12:15 and 6:15 a.m., Sunday, June 14, 1979.

Late Friday, June 22, 1979, Vince Valaitis was having dinner with Sue Myers at the apartment she shared with Bill Bradfield. Bradfield's son Martin and the young man's girlfriend were also present, but Bill Bradfield had not yet shown up. After dinner, the group trooped down to Valaitis' place to enjoy a movie. As the hours wore on, Myers decided that Bradfield was not going to show up for the trip to Cape May after all. She went back home and to bed.

It was about 11:15 p.m. when Bradfield knocked on Valaitis' door. He asked after Myers and was told she had gone to bed.

Bradfield exchanged some formalities with Martin and his date before the couple left, then turned to Valaitis. "Get some gas for the car," he said. "Let's get it packed. Let's go."

It was after midnight when Bradfield, Myers and Valaitis drove to Pappas' house to pick him up. Pappas took over the driving.

On the way, Bradfield exploded with apprehension for Susan Reinert. "I'm afraid this is it!" he shouted. "I'm afraid this is the weekend Dr. Smith could kill Susan Reinert! I tried to protect her I followed him toward her house! I circled the house fourteen times! I lost him in the hailstorm!"

 "You don't know that," Valaitis said to reassure the older man. "You don't know that he's going to do her any harm."

Bradfield seemed to give up. "It's in God's hands," he said.

At about 5:00 a.m., the quartet arrived at the Heirloom Apartments in Cape May, New Jersey. They were dismayed for both of the rooms they had ordered were locked and one was occupied. The tired group sat in the corridor with their baggage, griping about their bad luck.

The owner of Heirloom showed up at about 7:00 a.m. She was embarrassed that she had apparently made a mistake about when their rooms were reserved. She quickly put Bradfield and Myers in one room, Valaitis and Pappas in another.

The weekend was no relaxing vacation. Bradfield accompanied Valaitis to Saturday night mass. "I want to pray for Susan Reinert," Bradfield informed his friend, "and you should, too."

Later that night, Bradfield, Myers, and Pappas went to a theater. Bradfield saved all of their ticket stubs.

On Sunday morning, Bradfield told Valaitis that they needed to attend another mass. "We've got to pray for Susan Reinert!" he said. Bradfield lit a candle on her behalf. "This is to keep evil from her," he explained.

Before leaving the Heirloom Apartments that Monday, Bradfield paid their bill with a check that had four names on it, his own and that of the friends with him. He asked for a written receipt and he told the proprietor that she must include Friday on the receipt.

When Bradfield and Myers got home, the first thing he told his longtime girlfriend was that he had to phone Jay Smith's attorney. After the call, Bradfield beamed. "Well, Jay Smith was sentenced to jail!" he exclaimed. "Susan Reinert is out of harm's way!"

He seemed to have simply forgotten the fact that he had testified as an alibi witness for the ex-principal and had maintained that Smith was innocent of the crimes for which he was tried. Rather, he appeared delighted that the jury had ignored his testimony.

Valaitis was preparing for the trip to St. John's College in Santa Fe when an overjoyed Bradfield burst in upon him. "I just called Dr. Smith's lawyer!" he said. "They sentenced him to prison!" Then Bradfield sank into a chair and started weeping. "Thank God he's in jail!" Bradfield said. "I saved that woman's life!"

Then Bradfield went to Pappas' house and the scene was again re-enacted.

 

 

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