Joseph Wambaugh Echoes in the Darkness

ISBN 13: 9780553269321

Echoes in the Darkness

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9780553269321: Echoes in the Darkness
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On June 25, 1989, the naked corpse of schoolteacher Susan Reinert was found wedged into her hatchback car in a hotel parking lot near Philadelphia's "Main Line."  Her two children had vanished.  The Main Line Murder Case burst upon the headlines--and wasn't resolved for seven years.  Now, master crime writer Joseph Wambaugh reconstructs the case from its roots, recounting the details, drama, players and pawns in this bizarre crime that shocked the nation and tore apart a respectable suburban town.  The massive FBI and state police investigation ultimately centered on two men.  Dr. Jay C. Smith--By day he was principal of Upper Merion High School where Susan Reinert taught.  At night he was a sadist who indulged in porno, drugs, and weapons.  William Bradfield--He was a bearded and charismatic English teacher and classics scholar, but his real genius was for juggling women--three at a time.  One of those women was Susan Reinert.  How these two men are connected, how the brilliant murder was carried off, and how the investigators closed this astounding case makes for Wambaugh's most compelling book yet.

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About the Author:

Joseph Wambaugh is the hard-hitting bestselling writer who conveys the passionate immediacy of a special world. He was a police officer with the LAPD for 14 years before retiring in 1974, during which time he published three bestselling novels. Over the course of his career, Wambaugh has been the author of more than 20 works of fiction and nonfiction, all written in his gritty, distinctive noir-ish style. He's won multiple Edgar Awards, and several of his books have been made into feature films and TV movies. He lives in California with his wife.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
 
The Poet
 
“I wasn’t the first colleague to fall for Bill Bradfield, not by a long shot,” Sue Myers said. “He had a way. He was intense yet boyish. He was articulate and erudite but wasn’t afraid to show affection. He might suddenly just put his arm around your shoulder when he was talking ever so passionately about something as mundane as a lesson plan for advanced students. He was handsy, but it seemed so natural. Some people found it endearing.
 
“He dreamed of visiting the sacred places that T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound visited when they toured Europe,” she remembered. “I never pretended to understand Pounds poetry. I attempted to read The Cantos, but I couldn’t decipher them. I thought Bill Bradfield was the most brilliant teacher I’d ever met. He was interested in art and music and literature. He was interested in everything. The students loved him, and pretty soon so did I.”
 
The newspapers never got her age right when they wrote about her. Sue Myers was older than reported. Born in May, 1940, she was seven years younger than William S. Bradfield, Jr.
 
Sue Myers met William Bradfield when she came to teach at Upper Merion Senior High School in the fall of 1963, and within a year they were lovers. But being the lover of Bill Bradfield had its drawbacks. Newspaper accounts in later years would refer to him as the “Rasputin” of Upper Merion, but if so, somebody must’ve misplaced the mad monk’s rampant glands. Sue Myers was a virgin when she began dating Bill Bradfield and thought for several months she might remain one.
 
“He never made me feel he was after a sexual fix,” she said. “We hardly did more than kiss for a long while.”
 
When she first dated him he wore a hand-me-down suit that had belonged to a dead uncle, yet on his wrist was a top-of-the-line Omega. When he was away from home he’d stay in places where at night the wallpaper wiggled and shimmied, yet once he ran out and bought seven pairs of Nettleton shoes because someone told them they were good. He kept Sue Myers so confused it was literally months before she thought she understood his marital status. And then she was wrong.
 
He was a whole lot of work, this teacher. She’d learn about him, but a little at a time.
 
One of the things she learned early was that Bill Bradfield was the only son of a retired corporate executive who owned a nice piece of land and a 19th-century farm house near Downingtown. His father had worked for Western Electric and had been transferred often in his career. Bill Bradfield told her that he’d been enrolled in thirteen different schools before entering Haverford College in the heart of The Main Line, considered part of the “Little Ivy League,” along with Colby and Amherst, and sister schools like Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr.
 
It was always painful for him to recall his boyhood relationship with his father. It seemed young Bill Bradfield could never perform any task well enough to suit an aggressive, overachieving businessman. One day the boy was determined to do an expert job of trimming the hedge in their yard. He dug a hole, and after measuring precisely, planted a pole at each end of the hedge to mark the desired height. Then he tied a string between the two pencil marks and trimmed the hedge as “flat as a table top.” He’d labored for hours, and when he was finished he nervously awaited his fathers judgment. The executive pointed out that his son had forgotten to take into consideration the terrain, which sloped twelve inches from one end of the hedge to the other. Put an egg on this table and you’d better like omelets.
 
“Bradfields never forget,” Sue Myers said. “Bill grew to be a very unforgiving man.”
 
Bill Bradfield stood six feet three inches tall and weighed two hundred pounds, with a chest and shoulders he’d developed as a college wrestler. He had brooding blue eyes, shaded by overhanging eyebrows that often caught bronze highlights when he cocked his head in a dreamy pose. His gaze was so intense it could transfix, so his blue eyes were variously described as “poetic,” “icy” or “hypnotic,” depending upon his moods.
 
He had coppery blond hair and in the early days of their relationship, a romantic D. H. Lawrence beard that could look like a clump of seaweed when he was in his “active” phase.
 
His active phase, according to Sue Myers, took place in the spring. “The juices would flow,” she said, and he’d become about as predictable as a Chinese earthquake.
 
Sue Myers was more than a foot shorter than her secret lover and weighed a little over a hundred pounds. She was a brunette with a small mouth and grayish teeth and dark self-conscious eyes that darted like a pair of hummingbirds.
 
She was not a dreamer. Sue Myers was a practical woman who knew her limitations and couldn’t believe that she was being chosen by (it would become an Upper Merion cliché) the most “charismatic” teacher in the district. She was only modestly attractive, but Bill Bradfield had never been known to pursue beautiful women. In the true Romantic spirit, he said that he sought “the beauty of the soul.”
 
One of the first things anyone ever learned about Bill Bradfield was that he was crazy about Ezra Pound. Early in their love affair he told Sue Myers how it had happened.
 
Unable to get his academic bearings in his undergraduate days at Haverford, Bill Bradfield read a book that altered the course of his life. It was ABC of Reading, by Ezra Pound. Like all of the poet’s work, it was obscure, arcane, filled with Greek, Latin and classical allusion. The young man didn’t understand the book but was deeply moved by it.
 
He learned that Ezra Pound was still confined at St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital in Washington, D.C., having barely escaped a charge of treason for lending support to Benito Mussolini. Before Pound was released, Bill Bradfield visited him and managed to ingratiate himself. He ran errands and visited the Library of Congress on Pounds behalf. He was, in a sense, on the scene when Pound wrote his most famous work within the walls of the asylum. While Ezra Pound was studying Confucius and writing The Cantos, Bill Bradfield wanted to help his master escape and to hide the poet in the Bradfield attic.
 
Sue Myers was never certain how the undergraduates plans ran aground, but the upshot was that Bill Bradfield returned to Haverford inspired to complete his undergraduate and graduate degrees and pursue a life of contemplation and poetry. Though born and raised a Quaker, he was, through Pound’s influence, deeply interested in Catholicism and the writings of Thomas Aquinas. From then on, when asked his religion, he would say, “I’m a Quaker-Confucian-Catholic.”
 
Sue Myers always believed that he would never have chosen her if she hadn’t been a virgin. Bill Bradfield always spoke of chastity, and celibacy was one of the things he admired most about the Roman Catholic clergy.
 
In later years, she would often say, “The fact of the matter is, Bill Bradfield would have been much happier as a monk.”
 
But he was far from monkish back in those days. Sue Myers had to endure many other women but he would always vow to repent. And she would forgive.
 
“When he talked of love to me,” she recalled, “I felt I was the only person in the universe for him. When he’d hold me, I was convinced of it beyond all doubt.”
 
Alas, there were several other teachers at Upper Merion equally convinced. Bill Bradfield sought the soul of one of them but had settled for her body when her husband found out about it and warned Bill to desist at once.
 
The next thing the husband knew, the former college wrestler came crashing through his front door and chased him down the hall while the wife, wrapped in a towel, stood screaming. According to the police report, Bill Bradfield punched the husband twenty times, breaking his nose, thereby adding “injury to insult, as he bellowed, “Never interfere with me again!”
 
He was charged with aggravated assault and battery, but charges were dropped after he agreed to turn over $500 in bail money for the victim’s medical expenses.
 
Sue Myers heard all the stories, but she wanted this man. She intended to marry him and have children with him. So they talked of living together, but he had one little caveat: their arrangement would have to remain secret. She said she’d consider it.
 
There was a very good reason for the secrecy, he told her. The school district might charge them with moral turpitude if it was found they were living together out of wedlock.
 
And when she suggested that they could easily eliminate that problem, he had a lot of complex and confusing reasons why marriage could not take place. Not yet.
 
In the first place, he confessed, he was already “sort of married.” Twice. And he had children by both ladies. It seems that he’d met Fran in college, and being young and inexperienced, he decided to live with her, a daring decision at that time. There wasn’t sufficient thought given by either of them, he had to admit in retrospect. There had been other things occupying him: a martyred poet locked in an asylum, for instance. Anyway, they had two boys, Martin and William, born a year apart. When the boys were five or six, Fran left. (He was very vague about this part.) And then along came Muriel.
 
She wasn’t as pretty as Fran, and of course she wasn’t his intellectual equal. She was tall and thin and had a long angular face. Not a great housekeeper either, but she was a born mother, and his two lads needed a mother. He and Muriel struck a bargain and entered into a living arrangement. Another “common-law” marriage, so to speak. Part of the agreement required that he sire another child for Muriel. She wanted to bear a child with “his looks and brains.” So David was born.
 
All of the kids lived with Muriel in a house he owned in Chester County. He saw to their support, but he still wasn’t actually married, he said. But it was his nature to be “spiritually married,” joined by conscience until the boys were old enough to make their own way. So he asked Sue Myers to be patient and remain a secret lover until a better time.
 
Sue Myers was nothing if not patient. Not many people ever knew they were lovers. He always claimed they were “close friends.” It took an extraordinary capacity for secrecy to pull this off over the years. It took an extraordinary capacity for obedience on the part of his half-pint Sancho Panza.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

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