The Meaning of Malice: On the Trail of the Black Widow of Highland Park

$19.95 USD

Bestselling true crime author John Leake tells the full story of a Dallas socialite long suspected of serial murder, presents new evidence, and exposes how she evaded scrutiny by law enforcement.

Sandra Bridewell was a beguiling Dallas socialite in the seventies and early eighties. Her first husband was a prominent dentist who was found shot to death in their home in 1975. The medical examiner ruled his death a suicide. Her second husband, Robert Bridewell, developed the Mansion on Turtle Creek—the first property of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts. Shortly after Mr. Bridewell died of lymphoma in 1982, his treating doctor’s wife was found shot to death in her car at Love Field a few hours after giving Sandra a ride to the airport. The medical examiner ruled the woman’s death a suicide. Three years later, Sandra’s third husband was found shot to death in his car in which he was last seen driving to meet her. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide and Sandra became the prime suspect but was never arrested.

In 1987, Sandra was the subject of a D Magazine feature titled “The Black Widow” that suggested she had indeed murdered her third husband—as well as her first husband and the wife of the prominent cancer doctor who had treated Mr. Bridewell.

Author John Leake grew up in Highland Park, down the street from Sandra Bridewell, and often visited her at her home to play with one of her children. He began his multi-year investigation in 2007, when Sandra was arrested for aggravated identity theft. Assuming the guise of a Christian missionary, she ingratiated herself with an elderly lady in Southport, North Carolina (near Cape Fear) to steal the unsuspecting victim’s identity and to plunder her financial assets. Leake visited Bridewell in pretrial detention and began documenting her life and wanderings. He then investigated the three gunshot deaths reported in the D Magazine feature with the assistance of former Los Angeles County criminalist Lynne Herold and former FBI forensic psychologist, Gregg McCrary.

Dallas police photos of the first two death scenes display physical evidence that they were not suicides, but murders staged to look like suicides. These murders bear striking similarities to the murder of Sandra Bridewell’s third husband, and she was the last known contact of all three decedents. After serving two years in a federal penitentiary for aggravated identity theft, she was released in 2010 and now roams free.