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.

At several gala events, Sandra asked a society photographer to point out rich men. "I told her that most of them were married, but she said she didn't care," the photographer told me. "She wanted to know how much they were worth and what their relationships with their wives were like."

By 1987, the Rehrig investigation had stalled. Gloria Rehrig had plastered fliers around Dallas and Oklahoma City asking anyone with information about her son's murder to contact police, then filed a lawsuit to prevent Sandra from receiving the proceeds of her son's life insurance policy. Oklahoma City Detectives Ron Mitchell and Steve Pacheco were prepared to testify that Sandra was their only suspect in Rehrig's murder. But after Sandra moved the lawsuit to California, Mrs. Rehrig was forced to settle. Sandra received all the insurance money.

But the whispers followed Sandra to California, fueled by lawsuits alleging fraud against her by Kuba and a California businessman named Thomas Finney. In the midst of her affair with Kuba, Sandra revealed that she was having short-term financial difficulties; she'd spent her twice-yearly trust fund payment, and the proceeds from the sale of some real estate had been delayed. With her promise to repay him as soon as the money came through, Kuba loaned her $5,000. Amid the passion of their relationship, her requests for money began to come more frequently. Sandra always needed more: $8,500 for her son's college tuition, $3,000 for rent, a repair for her Alfa Romeo. The smitten Kuba couldn't turn her down, even borrowing money to accommodate her.

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.

Kuba would later wonder why he was so gullible. "She just exuded vulnerability, like 'Won't you be my knight in shining armor?'" Kuba told me. "And she had all the trappings--a smooth, beautiful package. It never occurred to me she wasn't what she seemed."

After he'd loaned her almost $24,000 and she'd made no effort to pay him back, Kuba declined Sandra's request to buy a Jeep Cherokee for her daughters. Sandra began to stand him up. Their last communiqué was an answering-machine message from Sandra canceling a date to the ballet. Relieved, Kuba wrote her a letter detailing what she owed him. He never heard from Sandra again.

A month later, Kuba was contacted by Finney. At the same time she was involved with Kuba, Finney had loaned Sandra almost $75,000 from his pension fund for tuition and various other crises. When Finney, who said he didn't have an affair with Sandra, asked for the expected repayment, Sandra told him, "I don't owe you this money. I think you gave it to me. If you want to divorce your wife, you can come live with me and enjoy your money."

The two men discovered that yet another California lawyer, once engaged to marry Sandra, had given or loaned her close to $200,000 and had not been repaid. The three men had loaned her nearly $300,000 in two years. One acquaintance would later estimate Sandra's monthly expenses at $20,000--tuition, parties, rent, car payments and the occasional ball gown.

After Kuba and Finney sued, the 1987 D story began appearing in Marin County mailboxes and on fax machines, polarizing Sandra's new friends. An FBI agent asked Cindy Abbott, one of Sandra's defenders, if she had read the story. "If you took Betsy Bagwell and put her in California," the agent told her, "you are Betsy Bagwell." Abbott and her husband hastily cut off Sandra.

Elizabeth Merrill, a mainstay of San Francisco society, had introduced Sandra to a rich Hong Kong financier. They'd attended a charity ball together, and Sandra told Merrill he'd invited her to visit Hong Kong. Now Merrill called the financier to warn him. The man explained that days earlier he'd returned home to discover Sandra waiting in his living room. "It was an extraordinarily clever, highly polished performance," Merrill told me. "I believe she insinuated she was pregnant, had undergone some hormonal changes [indicative of pregnancy] in the last month." The man simply told Sandra to send him the medical bills.

With little hope of recovering his money and to avoid mounting legal costs, Kuba dismissed his lawsuit. Finney won a default judgment but never collected a dime.

On July 12, 1989, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story called "Mystery in Marin," outlining the controversy over Sandra. Her saga was picked up by tabloids like The Globe and TV shows such as Geraldo, Inside Edition and Current Affair, spreading beyond San Francisco and Dallas. Sandra Bridewell had gone from mysterious to notorious.

Enter Camille

At some point in the early '90s, Sandra seemingly vanished, leaving few trails in public records and databases and re-emerging as Camille Bridewell. She spent some of the time pingponging between Arizona and California, where two children attended college. All three would ultimately graduate with college degrees, and the few Dallas friends who kept up with them described them as well-adjusted despite their mother's bizarre behavior. All three have married; Sandra now has two grandchildren.

In 1994, I heard from a private detective hired by the wife of an entrepreneur who split his time between Idaho and San Francisco. Camille Bridewell, now 50 and living in Palo Alto, began having an affair with him in 1992. After his wife discovered the affair, the man moved Camille to Boston, appeasing her with a $3,000-a-month apartment on Beacon Hill. Camille then revealed she was three months' pregnant with his child. (Says one former Dallas friend: "Sandra could have passed for pregnant in her 40s." When she gained weight, it went to her stomach.) Six months later, Sandra called him to say she'd had the child and given it up for adoption.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
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...

 
Dallas Concert Tickets
Loading...