Regarding my previous post on Saturday highlighting a poem by the very talented Karen J. Weyant, I was contacted directly by the author on the same day. Obviously, news travels fast on the Internet and interested folks can even find obscure blogs such as mine.
Anyway, Karen was gracious enough to provide me with the background on her work that I had featured previously entitled “The Girl Who Turned Cartwheels”:
This poem was based roughly on the case of Susan Reinert, whose body was found in the trunk of a car near Harrisburg, PA. Her story and the trial afterwards was the basis of Echoes in the Darkness and a lifetime movie by the same name.I did some searching based using Karen’s information and found quite a bit of material on the Reinert case. Sadly, the children (Michael and Karen) were declared legally dead in 1987 and the missing person investigations are still classified as open.
Susan had two children, Karen and Michael, who disappeared. Their bodies have never been found.
Susan was from my hometown in Western PA -- and my parents knew her family. Everyone knew her family. So, for so many reasons, her murder haunted my parents -- especially since Michael, if he was alive today, would be my age.
In some ways, it's a poem of innocence lost. But for me, it's also a small token of remembrance for two missing children and their murdered mother.
Their story is summarized by the good folks over at the DOE Network:
Michael Reinert was last seen at approximately 9:20 p.m. leaving his home with his sister, Karen, and their mother, Susan Gallagher Reinert, in Ardmore, Pennsylvania on June 22, 1979.Interestingly, after the death of Bradfield, investigators discovered the photograph shown below of what they think is a grave, and have been trying for years to identify the location of where it was taken-—believing that the children may be buried there.
Three days later, on June 25, 1979 Susan's nude body was found in the trunk of her own car, which was parked in the parking lot of the Host Inn in Swatara Township, Pennsylvania. She had been beaten and bound with a chain, then killed with an injection of morphine 24 to 36 hours after the beating.
There was no sign of Michael or Karen at the scene and an extensive search turned up no signs of either of them.
Various tips came in about the whereabouts of the children. One tip claimed the children were with an ex-con in Denver, Colorado…
…Two men were convicted of the murders of the Reinert family. One of the men, William Sidney "Bill" Bradfield, Susan’s boyfriend, died in prison; the other Dr. Jay Charles Smith, principal of the school where Susan taught, was released when his conviction was overturned because of allegedly concealed evidence by the prosecution…
It is believed they were murdered for Susan's insurance money.
Karen’s new release chapbook entitled “Stealing Dust” focuses on the working class environment, especially concerning women.
Thanks again to Karen for the background and crime details of this interesting yet tragic case.