Sandra Camille (Powers) Bridewell, was born, April 4, 1944. She was adopted as a child by Arthur and Camille Powers of Sedalia, Missouri. She was known primarily as a destructive con-artist, as, over the course of more than 3 decades, the woman who became known as the “Black Widow”, deceived both lovers and friends for hundreds of thousands of dollars. She is also suspected of being a part of, atleast one of her husbands and also a close friend death.
It all started in a disconcerting and traumatic childhood. Reports indicate, that at the age of 3, her adoptive mother, Camille, was killed in a car-accident. Bridewell’s father, Arthur, who both managed and commanded a Dr.Pepper bottling factory, eventually re-married, and the family were re-located to Oak Cliff, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He resigned from his previous position and found new employment, becoming a cemetery plot salesman.
Bridewell discovered that adjusting to her new surroundings was not the problem, the problem was adjusting to her new stepmother Doris. The two of them were continuosly fighting, whilst Bridewell would protest that her stepmother regulary locked her inside a closet, refused to send out birthday party invitations and enjoy telling her that nobody wanted her.
Bridewell graduated high school in the year of 1962. As a high school student, she would rarely date, however after graduation, she soon began dating a series of different men. She was extreamly seductive, many of the men became totally smitten with, what a later friend would describe as, “her, ‘lady-like’, ‘poor-helpless-me’ routine”. Bridewell attended junior college for a single year, it seems Bridewell had already decided her intentions, she wanted to marry into money.
For Sandra to achieve her intentions, she began living a life, littered with deception and deceit. She would tell some friends, that both of her adoptive parents were killed. She would tell some others she was daughter to Irish aristocrats. The most common deceit that she used with regularity, was the “West Point Boyfriend”, this entailed the story of a boyfriend who shot himself while she sat next to him in a car.
Despite Sandra’s continuous deceptive nature, she was able to convince many people to believe her lies, especially men. Many stories from these men, were very similar and followed a general theme, recalling, “She had a way” and, “Men, just sort of… were fascinated with her”. Sandra through the course of her life, would intensify the deception and lived with many different aliases.
There were many victims, from her guiltless deceit. One such victim, was the up-shot dentist, David Stegall, who was schooled in Los Angeles and was a regular dentist for high-status Hollywood stars. Stegall had a compulsion towards, Cadillacs, large homes and pretty women. Sandra noticed something she liked about Stegall, and by the year 1967 she had married him. Within the first few years after the marriage, the couple began to raise a family, and soon had 3 daughters, Britt, Kathryn and Emily. The family enjoyed a high-class lifestyle and lived in a most desirable Dallas neighbourhood.
Sandra’s taste and passion for the finer things were even more profound than her husbands, and desite the massive salary and reputation of Stegall, Sandra’s tastes were beginning to strain and taking the family to the brink. Sandra was a connoisseur of many things, she loved beautiful artwork and expensive furnishings. By the year 1974, the couple’s marriage was in turmoil and the family was in severe debt, forcing Stegall to loan a substantial sum of money from his father to pay off a number of the hefty bills.
By February 1975, the situation had over-come Stegall, and he tried to commit suicide. Reports indicate that Sandra discovered a distressed Stegall closed in a closet with a gun pointed at his head. Sandra was then able to persuade Stegall to re-consider. However this did not change Stegall for the long-term, and a few weeks later he was discovered dead. Lying on in his bed with both wrists open and a.22 caliber gunshot wound through his head.
Sandra swiftly took action towards straightening her financial situation. This started with the collection of her husband’s life insurance policy, sold the lat Stegall’s practice and began dating other wealthy men. After a mere 3 years of her husband’s death, Sandra was married again, this time to well-known Dallas based developer, Bobby Bridewell.
Soon after the wedding Bridewell took the decision to adopt Sandra’s 3 daughters and the family made their’ home in the fancy Dallas neighbourhood of Highland Park. However in 1980, life changed and in dramatic and tragic twist Bridwell was diagnosed with cancer. Sandra found the diagnosis extremely painful, as she continued her life in her usual way, with an elemental grieving. During her husbands battle with the illness, Sandra decided to have the family’s entire household remodelled, forcing the weakening Bridewell to move into a friend’s house. Bridewell after a 2 year struggle, finally succumbed to his diagnoses and died.
The impact of Bridewell’s death was hard-felt by Sandra. At least for the short-term, she was able to gain support and hope, in the friendship of Bridewell’s oncologist, Dr’ John Bradwell and his wife Betsy. In the beginning the couple were more than happy and open to offer support to their friend. Sandra over-time, began visiting the Bagwell household with more frequent persistence. Whilst the doctor and his wife were enjoying a vacation in New Mexico, Sandra went as far as to show up unannounced. Her ever increasing requests were frequented with pleads of childcare and harassment through phone calls.
The Bagwell’s soon decided upon action, and attempted to extricate themselves from the relationship with Sandra. Sandra however would not allow it. In June 1982, she made a phone call to Betsy, and requested she take her to the hospital, so she could rent a car as her’s wouldn’t start. Betsy supplicated and would take Sandra to the hospital, and then back to the Church were Sandra was previously parked so she could retrieve her license, which she claimed on arrival, had been forgotten.
The exact details of the encounter remain shrouded in mystery. What is understood, is that on June 16, 1982, authorities discovered the 40-year old Mrs. Bagwell, dead in her Mercedes i the airport parking lot. There was a large gunshot wound in her head, and a stolen.22 caliber pistol held in her right hand. when the verdict was given, it was concluded as a suicide.
Despite the verdict, there was still many questions unanswered. The police were aware that Sandra was the last person to have seen Betsy alive. Questions emerged about the death, these included the absence of a suicide note. The police however refused to re-examine the case and it remained closed.
As was so accustomed to Sandra, she non-chalantly continued with her life. As of June 1984, another man had fallen into her clutches. The victim, a good-looking 29 year-old, Alan Rehrig, had just moved to Dallas to begin work for a mortgage company. Sandra was conversing around her yard, when Rehrig, searching for a place he could call home, happened to pass by in his car. Pulling his Ford Bronco over to the side of the road, he asked Sandra if she knew of any apartments to move into. She admitted she did not, instead, agreeing to help him out.
Within just a few short weeks the pair became inseparable. Rehrig was extremely fond of Sandra’s 3 daughters, who, at their’ mother’s calling would announce themselves upon an unsuspecting Rehrig, whilst he was busy working at his office. Sandra, by the fall of 1984, had some unexpected news for Rehrig and delivered the news that she was pregnant with twins. This situation was even more curious for one important reason, 7 years previous Sandra underwent a successful hysterectomy. This was yet more deceit from Sandra, feeling that as she gained some weight around her stomach, that she could lie effectively. There were of course more lies, lies including her age, telling Rehrig she was 36, when she was in fact 41.
A trustworthy Rehrig, had no reason to doubt his new girlfriend, as he still felt the were getting to know each other. Despite the intervention of friend’s to demonstrate to Rehrig the speed at which his life was changing, he was also in love, and, December 1984, Sandra Bridewell and Alan Rehrig became husband and wife.
There was always the awareness to Sandra, that the pregnancy lie could only take her so far. With, Rehrig committed entirely to his wife, Sandra was able to easily change the story. So, in February 1985, she made a phone call to her husband and told him the unfortunate news that she had a miscarriage.
The news was devastating to Rehrig and the marriage began to suffer as a result. Like her previous two husbands, Rehrig was beginning to realise that his wife a pallet for expensive tastes. She would push him to make more and more money, and made him take out a big life insurance policy. Friend’s recall how Rehrig complained of Sandra’s habits, as she spent $20,000 a month on clothes, food and travel.
November 1985, and the couple separated. Rehrig was convinced he had to end the relationship with Sandra and moved into a friend’s home. The two of them, were separated for a period of several weeks and they didn’t so much as set eyes upon each other. Then in early December, Sandra phoned Rehrig and arranged a meeting at a storage facility at which the two had stored some items.
The true happenings of what ensued over the next several hours have never been determined. What is understood is, Rehrig was located slumped over in his Bronco in Oklahoma. The were vast gunshot wounds to both the head and the chest. It was also determined that Rehrig has in fact been driven all the way to Oklahoma. The death of Rehrig was heavily scrutinised, Sandra was suspected of his murder, however nothing could be pinned on the woman who had become known around Dallas as the, “Black Widow”. Her demeanor under interrogation could be described as coy, almost playful. There was then a total switch in behaviour from the “Black Widow”, and she became completely uncooperative, refusing anyone to talk to both her and her daughters.
If there was any grief towards her husbands death, then it was being hidden well. Sandra, was scrimping on funeral expenses, selecting the most in-expensive casket possible for Rehrig and then convincing her friends to cover the burial costs. On the day of the service, she arrived late, dressed head to foot in a rich mink coat. This was an affordable expense, Rehrig’s death had provided her with a $220,000 life insurance claim, dropped straight into her bank account.
Sandra’s reputation however was in tatters. A popular local magazine, detailing Sandra’s curious past, and recounting her behaviour was to serve to this. Sandra was soon to leave Dallas for good, she re-located herself and her family to the San Francisco area. Sandra still contained the same charm and engaged it upon Marin County, she soon began dating a gaggle of wealthy men, who were sympathetic towards her past story, this story would often incorporate the use of a trust fund that she was about to be receiving and her non-restrained sexual inhibition. One of the men loaned her $23,000., whilst another was suckered into parting with $70,000, which he pulled up through a pension. Neither of the men received a single penny of their loans back, even though they took their’ claims to court. Soon, the same and similar stories that had surrounded Sandra in Dallas, began to appear in San Francisco.
By the early 1990′s, Sandra changed her name and was now known as Camille Bridewell. She had left California, and moved to Boston, where she took up residence with a boyfriend. She was also a resident in Connecticut and Hawaii. Despite the change of addresses, the same meanness still stewed in her underbelly. She would now steal the Social Security numbers of other people, she would take out credit cards, and rack up huge purchases, without an intent to ever pay the money back. she was so malicious in her actions, that she even destroyed the credit of her daughters.
As the millennium came around, Sandra was now middle aged, and shifted from sexuality to religion, as to draw her victims closer. The basis of her stories would now involve the invention of stories such as, she was a missionary who had traveled the world and work with orphans. As usual she was very persuasive and had a way to make people submit to her wants. She then befriended a couple who owned and managed a motel in the state of Alabama. Despite the fact that she was unable to even pay for a room, she was receiving food and money from the cople.
she continued with the missionary story, and as she moved herself to Atlanta, she would change her name slightly, from Bridewell to Bridwell. She then convinced a woman she met at church to split with the cost of an expensive condo rental. After a little time passed, Bridwell’s new housemate, found she was paying for everything, as Sandra claimed she was waiting for a large sum of money to be delivered form her trust fund.
As 2006 ensued, Sandra surfaced in North Carolina, at a new church and changed her name to Camille Bowers. Later that year, in September, she moved herself in with Sue Moseley, a 77 year old woman, residing in a million dollar home on the Carloina coast. Sandra struck up a deal with the son, Jim, that in return for the management of the housekeeping, she would receive free room and board.
She began to build a respectable reputation around the local community, and spoke several times at a local women’s club. Sandra then began the process of acquiring the finances of the Moseley’s. She gathered tax records, collected her Social Security payments into a separate account, siphoned off mortgage money, created credit charges and used Mosele’s bank account to fund her personal expenses, including spa treatments and expensive shoes.
Jim soon became suspicious of the new housekeeper, and early in 2007, he stumbled upon a length newspaper story in a Dallas publication, chronicling the exploits of her life. Jim, working alongside the police, as a front man in a sting, aided the arrest of the “Black Widow”, on 2nd March 2007 in a cafe in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The story of Sandra Bridewell culminates with numerous charges under her name. She was committed of, identity fraud, fraud, mail theft and Social Security fraud. After the arrest and the heavy publicity, the police took a renewed interest in the death of Rehrig and the police of Oklahoma City, pour more resources and more manpower towards the case.
February 2008, and Sandra Camille Powers, pleads guilty to one count of identity theft, later the same month she was formally sentenced by the judge. The “Black Widow”, had left a lasting impact and trail of destruction wherever she went, leaving a trail of victims desperate for her sentencing. When justice was finally insued, she was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine,a dn pay more than $1,600 dollars in restitution to the Moseley family.
Source by Matthew A Black