Fatal Web

The arrest of Dallas' "Black Widow" lights a fire under a cold murder case

When he spotted the pretty woman standing on the front lawn of a stately home in Highland Park, Alan Rehrig whipped his Bronco into the driveway and climbed out. The former college basketball star shook her hand and asked if she knew anyone who had a garage apartment for rent.

The dark-haired beauty fixed Rehrig with a dazzling smile. "No, but if you come back in 30 minutes, I'll see if I can help you," Sandra Bridewell said.

Rehrig drove down Lorraine Street, saw another woman in her yard and asked her the same question. She had seen Rehrig stop in front of Bridewell's house and warned him not to have anything to do with "that woman." Later he would laugh about the comment and tell his office friends "they're just jealous because she's good-looking."

The mugshot of Sandra Bridewell, now going by Camille Powers, taken after her arrest on March 2 in North Carolina
The mugshot of Sandra Bridewell, now going by Camille Powers, taken after her arrest on March 2 in North Carolina
Sandra and Alan Rehrig soon after their wedding. "He was a trophy date," says a friend.
Sandra and Alan Rehrig soon after their wedding. "He was a trophy date," says a friend.

He returned, and Bridewell climbed into his Bronco. They drove through Highland Park, chatting about which neighbors might have servants' quarters to rent.

It was June 2, 1984, and Rehrig had just moved to Dallas. After the drive, Rehrig rushed to Phil and Judy Askew's house, his temporary home, to shower and shave.

"He said he'd met this gorgeous woman," Judy Askew recalls.

Bridewell picked up Rehrig in her Mercedes convertible and took him to a party at the Dallas Country Club. They made a handsome if somewhat odd couple: the tall red-haired Rehrig with his all-American good looks and aw-shucks smile, and Bridewell, a delicate Southern beauty perfectly groomed and dressed by Neiman Marcus.

He was 29 and single. Bridewell was 36, with three children and alone after her husband's death from cancer. At least that's what she told Rehrig. She was really 41.

Within a few months, they were seeing each other every day. Bridewell adored his youth and handsome looks. Rehrig was impressed by the moneyed circles in which she moved, centered on The Mansion on Turtle Creek, the hotel created by her dead husband, Bobby Bridewell, where she received star treatment.

Rehrig didn't know that when he saw Bridewell on her Highland Park lawn, she was perched on a financial and social precipice. The house was mortgaged to the hilt. Credit cards, loans and gifts from men fueled the lifestyle, and an undercurrent of rumor had cost Bridewell friends and defenders.

Her neighbors whispered about the suicide of her first husband, David Stegall, who had shot himself in the head and slashed his wrists, and the even more mysterious suicide of Betsy Bagwell. The mother of two had been found shot in the head in her Mercedes Benz parked at Love Field after a day of ferrying Bridewell around. They speculated that Bridewell, whose second husband had died of cancer, was after Dr. John Bagwell, his oncologist and Betsy's husband. Death seemed to follow Sandra Bridewell.

Mesmerized by the lovely widow, Rehrig knew next to nothing about her past, and no one volunteered to clue him in. Six months after the start of their courtship, Rehrig and Bridewell wed at The Mansion.

A tumultuous year later they had separated, Rehrig again moving in with the Askews. Some people in Highland Park breathed a private sigh of relief. "At least he's alive," they told each other.

But on December 7, 1985, Rehrig left the Askew home around 4:50 p.m. He told them he was meeting his estranged wife at a mini-storage warehouse; she had requested his help moving some of her belongings stored there. Rehrig told Judy he was nervous because he hadn't seen her in a month.

The Askews were the last to see Rehrig alive. Four days later their friend was found dead in his Bronco, parked in a secluded area near the Oklahoma City airport. He'd been shot in the side and in the head. Freezing weather made it difficult to determine how long he had been dead.

Thanks to several Highland Park women who called the Oklahoma City police and provided detectives with information about the deaths of Stegall and Bagwell, the not-so-grieving widow would be caught in a tangle of lies.

Bridewell, who now goes by the name Camille Powers, remains the only suspect in Rehrig's murder. His death cemented Bridewell's reputation as the "Black Widow."


Twenty-one years later, Rehrig's murder is still unsolved. Bridewell, who received more than $220,000 in life insurance proceeds and Rehrig's estate, remains the only suspect. She left Dallas and embarked on a life hopscotching around the world, allegedly scamming men for money before remaking herself as a "missionary" and targeting gullible believers.

Today, Bridewell's March 2 arrest in North Carolina—her first—has given new life to the Rehrig investigation. While Bridewell remains in jail on $1.5 million bail on forgery and fraud charges after allegedly conning an elderly widow, the FBI is investigating her for possible Social Security fraud, a law enforcement source says.

A tradition among homicide detectives—whoever finds the body gets the case—plagued the Rehrig investigation from the beginning. It put Oklahoma City homicide detectives in charge even though evidence indicated Rehrig was murdered in Dallas and driven 200 miles north.

Even before Rehrig's funeral, Bridewell had hired a criminal defense attorney. After an initial interview, Bridewell blocked police from talking to her three children: Britt, 17; Kathryn, 14; and Emily, 12. She used all three as alibis.

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17 comments
an ex-family friend
an ex-family friend

What about the fiance of her first husband's dental school roommate? She just vanished. Never heard any mention of her... Murder number one of many??

jeff
jeff

as if we need any more proof and reminders of how inept, ignorant, stupid, naive, in denial, embarrassing, ridiculous, laughable, hideous, atrocious, sickening, wimpy, pussified, and devoid of common sense our criminal system. this dumb ass, dimwitted country just has such an amazing allergy to putting people, mostly women, in prison. i'm so sick and tired of women literally getting away with murder in this disgusting nation. this is the reason, however, that so many women are found headless and in the woods. men are tired of it, and until the system does something about it, there will be many more gals sliced and diced and left in rivers. so hear that all you wimpy and stupid judges, juries, and prosecutors... do your jobs ... or WE will.

james walker
james walker

Good article. Don't see why the rants of a few are against author instead of th4e "black widow". Sounds like the dughter is encouraging investigation. Some of these police dept. look foolish by playing one-upmanship and not coordinating informatiom.

Victor
Victor

I have been fascinated with this story since I saw on Dateline. When my wife was sent to Dallas on a business trip, I decided to tag along just to get a feel for Highland Park and the street she once lived in (Lorraine). I would like to know what has been of her since the arrest in North Carolina.

PAUL-DAVID PHY
PAUL-DAVID PHY

I CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THAT THE NAMES AND LOCATIONS OF SANDRA BRIDEWELL'S ADULT CHILDREN SHOULD NOT BE IN ANY NEWS ARTICLE.THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR THEIR MOTHER'S CRIMES.

Floyd Kirk
Floyd Kirk

I was a friend of Alan Rehrig in college. I was the student manager for the OSU BB team that Alan played on. He was a nice young man @ I was saddened years ago when I found out about Alans tragic death. He had supportive parents who atteneded every game and were very nice people. I am currently a school superintendent at a small school in Oklahoma. I have found memories of Alan @ I was blessed to have known him.This case hopefully will end @ give closure to Alans mother@ brother.Sincerely,Floyd Kirk

Dallasite
Dallasite

I just watched the "Black Widow" story on A&E. I had no idea that Sandra Bridewell was still living up her lifestyle until found in 2007! I can't believe that she has never done ANY jail time until now! I grew up with the Bagwell children and one of the Bridewell children. I teared up when they showed scenes from Betsy's tragedy. I have fond memories Betsy driving us kids around in her blue Volkswagon station wagon and spending the night at their home. Betsy was a wonderful and dear woman. My heart goes out to the Bagwell's, the Bridewell child that I know - who was such a neat kid, and all of the other families that have been affected by this woman. I can't even imagine how Sandra's web has affected all of the Bridewell children. Glenna, you have done some remarkable work. My opinion - give Sandra Bridewell the death penalty, and have her brain donated to UT Southwestern so we can have a better understanding of how a mentally ill brain works.

CELESTE
CELESTE

I THINK THAT HER KIDS SHOULD COME FORWARD ON ALL OF THE INFORMATION THEY KNOW ABOUT THEIR MOTHER. THEY NEED TO STOP BEING COWARDS AND LET THE WORLD KNOW WHAT THEIR MOTHER DID. IF THEY DON'T, THEY'RE ONLY CONTRIBUTING TO HER MURDERS.

Jim Lattourette
Jim Lattourette

It just goes to show that beauty is often only skin deep.

Caroline Billick
Caroline Billick

Damn, Glenna Whitely is like some mad dog that gotta hold of a bone and wants tochew it to death! She won't rest until Sandra is put away. And to go after herchildren, shame, shame shame!I am really surprized that a respectable paper would publish her fiction! Do keepin mind folks that it is a whole lot of fiction, conjecture and theory in the articles.

Bucking for the book bucks, eh Glenna? Well, the hell with justice when you areso intensely self-serving, and stop gloating because the once gorgeous socialitein now a deteriorating old homeless lady.

Can't believe Whitely gets published like she is 100 percent credible! Worse yetshe is very very convincing, just like the crimminal she writes about........spooky.

Caroline in Denver

QT
QT

I agree with Proud Texan. WHat happened to journalistic integritiy? It did sound like were ambushing her kids & accusing them of hiding something. They weren't. It's the cops fault for being macho boneheads & refusing to help eachother. Also why did they wait over 20 years to talk to the kids anyway? They were all close to being 18 in 85, the cops could've talked to them a few years later. The Dallas & Oklahoma cops in this case were/are totally useless!!You are milking this story to get famous & to get a book deal. SHAME!!

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? You write this story like you know for a fact what took place & you don't. You & the police should be focusing on other suspects as well.

rick
rick

It all makes you wonder what else this woman has done over the years.

Proud Texan
Proud Texan

It looks like you really are trying to milk this story for all it is worth and some. I can't believe that you would scam the poor daughter into talking to you, just so you can get a story for a book or movie. Yes, the woman is probably insane, but the way you over-dramatisize the story is very unprofessional and not befitting a journalist. I guess you are trying to get the kids to tell you some juicy details by pointing out where they live and implying they have been hiding evidence. Nice move.

khughes1963
khughes1963

I first learned of Sandra Bridewell via the D Magazine article by Skip Hollandsworth. This is a fascinating story. If Sandra Bridewell is ever convicted on murder charges, would you consider writing a book on the case? It would be great. I feel for Sandra's children, who didn't have much of a childhood, for Dr. Bagwell, and for Mrs. Rehrig.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

glenna

great article! interesting story. certain to me a film. would love to see winona ryder or hillary swank portray her.

jack jett

Bigdan210
Bigdan210

What was the name of the fiancé of her first husband's dental school roommate?

Paradismonet
Paradismonet

Jeff you are a serial killer in the making. Did you know that men get less time for killing there wives while abusing them & women get more time for killing a spouse that is abusing them because the theory is women have time to think about it bfor killing their abuser & men usually kill their spouse in the heat of the moment! Bullshit. The law is not perfect but it dose the best it can. Everything you just wrote let's the world no you are a possiable threat to women & I hope you do not have daughters, wife, sisters cause you are a danger to society ! Peace out demon!

 
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