Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Main Line Murders

'What Tape? What Body?'

The investigation into the Reinert case would be hampered by two major snafus. Joe VanNort searched for a voice print expert. They had to find the identity of the man with the Spanish accent, affected or real, who phoned in the report about the sick woman in the trunk of a car at the Host Inn.

Then VanNort and Holtz discovered that someone had recorded over it and obliterated the tape. Apparently this bungle occurred because the authorities had been deluged with phone calls after the notorious Three Mile Island scare and needed tapes so bad that they lost track of this one's importance.

The investigators went to the hospital where Reinert's corpse had been and asked to see it. "What body?" was the puzzled reply.

Reinert's remains had been cremated before the investigators could finish examining it. They had specifically informed the funeral home that the body was not to be cremated but they hadn't told that to Reinert's brother who asked that it be. Channels of communication were confused as they were with the voice print.

As Loretta Schwartz-Nobel summed it up in Engaged to Murder, "Within forty-eight hours of the discovery of what looked like a routine homicide, state police were dealing with one cremated corpse, two missing children, a critically important erased tape, and an incorrect cause and time of death."

It became common knowledge in the Philadelphia area that Susan Reinert had died with her life heavily insured. And that the beneficiary of those policies was a man named William Bradfield.

Days and then weeks went by with investigators combing a variety of locations for the children. Hope that they would be found alive dwindled. Investigators began digging up wooded areas. They found nothing.

From Santa Fe, an enraged Bill Bradfield called Vince Valaitis. Bradfield knew that Valaitis was talking to investigators. "If you speak to the police again," Bradfield told him, "you'll put me in the electric chair!"

Valaitis sputtered, "But, Bill, you haven't done anything wrong. Jay Smith killed Susan Reinert. You tried your best to prevent it."

"Jay Smith didn't do it."

Valaitis was flabbergasted. "Who the hell did it?" he asked.

"I don't know who did it," Bradfield admitted. "But it's not Dr. Smith's style."

VanNort and Holtz flew to Santa Fe to question the man described as Reinert's "intended husband" on her insurance policies. They wanted to talk to Bradfield and Pappas separately. Bradfield refused and Pappas went along with his friend. Bradfield suggested that any questions the officers had be put in writing and given to attorney John Paul Curran who, at least according to Bradfield, represented both he and Valaitis.

"That'd be very time consuming," Holt pointed out. "We're trying to locate two missing children and we need your help."

"I'd like to help," the scholar replied, "but my first concern is with my studies."

The stunned investigators returned to Pennsylvania and more evidence gathering. They learned that the 79th USARCOM comb found under Reinert's body was from the army reserve unit in which Jay Smith had been colonel.

However, VanNort doubted it meant that it had been dropped there by Smith. It was just too obvious. He thought Bradfield might have planted it there to implicate Smith.

In the meantime, Chris Pappas was starting to doubt Bradfield. The latter asked the former to switch ball elements on their respective typewriters. Pappas balked. He read in a newspaper about the $25,000 Reinert had withdrawn and remembered the cash he had helped Bradfield wipe clean of fingerprints.

 

 

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