Return of the Black Widow

Death and rumors have followed Sandra Bridewell for decades. But no one could predict the strange turn her life has taken today.

Later that month, Bridwell slipped on a sidewalk and broke her foot. Benson wrote a $900 check to cover the medical bill, money she didn't have. But Bridwell kept insisting that the real estate and marketing deal would soon go through.

It almost worked--until Liebe, one of the property's owners, had the nerve to ask Bridwell for her bona fides. "All she had to do was prove she had the financial resources to get to closing," Liebe says. "She refused." Insisting her funds wouldn't be available until January 5, Bridwell pressed the issue of the $25,000, saying she needed it to buy a car. The other men were willing to give it to her, but Liebe wouldn't back down. In a fury, Bridwell stomped out.

She told Benson that "other contingencies" kept the deal from being signed, but she refused to say what those were. One of Benson's business partners, a young accountant named Carlton Johnson, confronted Bridwell, saying what she was doing could be construed as fraud. "She took no responsibility for anything she had done," says Johnson, who began referring to Bridwell as the "sinister minister" of "First Jezebel Baptist."

A tangled web, clockwise from top left: Sandra married Alan Rehrig in December 1984; Alan in his office on December 6, 1985, the day before he was found dead; this photograph of Sandra and unidentified children was found among her belongings--Sandra claimed she'd ministered to kids in India, smuggled Bibles into China and hid in caves in Pakistan while handing out Christian tracts; a recent photo of Sandra, now 59.
A tangled web, clockwise from top left: Sandra married Alan Rehrig in December 1984; Alan in his office on December 6, 1985, the day before he was found dead; this photograph of Sandra and unidentified children was found among her belongings--Sandra claimed she'd ministered to kids in India, smuggled Bibles into China and hid in caves in Pakistan while handing out Christian tracts; a recent photo of Sandra, now 59.

A few days later, while Bridwell was out of the condo, Benson discovered her guest's passport stuffed under the air mattress. In addition, she found her own drivers license and notebooks filled with Bridwell's writing. One page was a list of her missionary "history," including the part about Marilyn Hickey being her mentor. On other pages, among notes from TV preachers and recipes, was a series of creepy affirmations:

"This is miracle season. Give me all my family back and ALL my stuff. EXPECT to live large."

"I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give in."

"I am getting ready to go start something. I am an entrepreneur."

"I refuse to live anymore in less than total victory. There's about to be a turnaround."

"You've scheduled a divine encounter for me. I now position myself. You're taking me over to immense wealth."

"The anointing to prosper will reveal and unfold God's will for my money."

"No 'broke' talk EVER."

"My payday is in my confidence and maintaining it. D[evil] it's my turn now. Nothing you sent has knocked me over or out. I stand to get now what I'm standing to get. THIS is my receiving day."

Her scribbling seemed written by a demented woman. Feeling the key to Bridwell's true nature was in the green suitcase, Benson tried to open it. But she couldn't get around the locks.

The next day, when Benson called police, Sandra Bridewell went on the attack, telling the officers that Benson had written hot checks and stolen her money, that she was bipolar and often went berserk. Benson was so incensed, her brother Joe Judkins had to hold her arms so she wouldn't harm Bridewell. "All Jaie's religion went out the window," Judkins says. Calling Bridewell a demon, Benson said, "Three people are dead, and the common denominator is you."

Knowing that Bridewell had been targeting yet another mark and was trying to finagle a plane ticket, Benson went for the jugular: "I'm going to call that man in California and warn him of your murderous ways." Bridewell's face twisted in fury.

When Benson told her she must leave, Bridewell got on the phone and called New Birth church, crying and pleading for someone to help her. But Benson had already warned the pastor's office. As Judkins carried her bags and boxes downstairs, Bridewell queried a policewoman about what church she attended. She got no response.

When Benson last saw Sandra Camille Bridewell, she was hobbling in the rain--with as much dignity as she could muster, given the medical boot on her broken foot--across the parking lot to hit someone up for cab fare to the airport. Wearing a long skirt and purple sweater, straw handbag under one arm, she tugged behind her the locked green suitcase.

The Next Mark

Paul Ferrari got the call out of the blue sometime in November. Camille Bridwell from Georgia said she'd shopped in one of his A.G. Ferrari stores in California and wanted to pick his brain about the specialty food business.

"She knew all about my stores and about the industry," says Ferrari, who lives in San Rafael. "Her husband had been in the oil business, and since he'd died, she'd been working as a missionary in India on her own for several years, building houses for people."

Implying she was wealthy, Bridwell told him she was living in Atlanta with a black woman from India and wanted to invest in his business. Could she visit him when she came to San Rafael, where her son lived?

Ferrari was impressed with how much she knew not only about the specialty food business but the organic food growers in the San Francisco area. He said sure.

When Bridwell called a second time to chat, Ferrari realized she not only knew a lot about the industry but about him personally--where he lived, that he owned property in Marin County, that his brother is a whale expert who lives in Maui. Earlier, she'd drawn out that he was single and lived alone. Though her voice sounded angelic and she ended the conversation with "God bless you," Ferrari began to get uncomfortable.

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5 comments
Northrup Julia
Northrup Julia

I was in jail with camille and she confessed to the murders to another inmate. while in brunswick county.

JESS MASHBURN
JESS MASHBURN

I was completely shocked to find this out about one of my moms next door neighbors. She is still lying about her past and still claiming to have just returned from missionary work( although I have learned that she was recently released from prison in Raleigh, NC). Camille is still trying to use church going people to fund her life. This is crazy, I can't believe I have had the run in chance of meeting this woman and then find this "book" on her disturbed life.

Buffin
Buffin

would like know if there is a end to this story, live in Dallas, I have heard of some of the people in the story.Would make a good movie.

jose
jose

Wow, when is the movie going to come out. She probably can get the rights to her life story and make money while in jail!It's going to make a great movie. I definitely, will watch it.

Kelly Oneill
Kelly Oneill

The Black Widow was arrested in Charlotte, NC on 3/2/07. She is charged with forgery and false pretense.

Arrest info @ http://arrestinquiryweb.co.mec...

She was using the name Sandra Powers and is still acting religious...

 
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