Utah Millionaire Is Murdered by His Grandson Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Franklin James Bradshaw became a millionaire by building a chain of auto-parts stores and acquiring federal and state oil and gas leases over several decades. Frances Schreuder, his daughter, was a New York socialite who spent her days recklessly spending or installing herself in boardrooms. When her father tired of her lavish lifestyle and threatened to cut her out of his will, Schreuder coerced her own son to murder the Utah magnate.

Summary of Event

During the mid-1970’s, Frances Schreuder was living the high life in an apartment in the upper East Side of Manhattan in New York and was determined to climb the social ladder. She was aggressively working to make herself an important fixture in such high-profile groups as the New York City Ballet’s board by courting administrator Lincoln Kirstein Kirstein, Lincoln and principal choreographer Balanchine, George George Balanchine. To keep up the appearance of having an elite social position and lifestyle, Schreuder also was spending recklessly—reportedly paying out as much as $40,000 at one time for one item, a pair of earrings from Tiffany’s. [kw]Murdered by His Grandson, Utah Millionaire Is (July 23, 1978) Bradshaw, Franklin James Bradshaw, Berenice Jewett Schreuder, Frances Bradshaw, Franklin James Bradshaw, Berenice Jewett Schreuder, Frances [g]United States;July 23, 1978: Utah Millionaire Is Murdered by His Grandson[01740] [c]Murder and suicide;July 23, 1978: Utah Millionaire Is Murdered by His Grandson[01740] [c]Families and children;July 23, 1978: Utah Millionaire Is Murdered by His Grandson[01740] [c]Business;July 23, 1978: Utah Millionaire Is Murdered by His Grandson[01740] Schreuder, Marc

Evidence points to Schreuder having a greedy side even as a teenager. For example, she was a student at the prestigious Bryn Mawr College but was suspended in 1958 for check theft and forgery. Reports also suggest Schreuder, a mother of three, was less maternal than monstrous: She was described as manipulative and domineering, and she abused her children, Larry and Marc (children by her first marriage to Vittorio Gentile) and Lavinia (daughter of her second marriage with Frederik Schreuder). She would, it turned out, combine her greed and her abusive ways to concoct one of the most sensational murders of the decade.

Schreuder was living to extremes her father, Franklin James Bradshaw, would never indulge in himself. A self-made millionaire who made his fortune with a chain of auto-parts stores and by acquiring federal and state oil and gas leases, Bradshaw nevertheless lived frugally and carefully, even eccentrically, some would say. Despite being worth approximately $10 million, his primary transportation vehicle was a rusty old pickup truck, he wore clothes from thrift stores, and his briefcase was an emptied beer box. In contrast, his daughter’s wasteful lifestyle appalled him, and he threatened that if she did not curb the lavish spending, he would cut her from his will.

Incensed and fearful that her father would keep his word, Schreuder began plotting. In the summer of 1977, her sons, Larry and Marc, were working at their grandfather’s Utah auto-parts warehouse. Schreuder directed the boys to steal money from the business. Marc later testified that she gave her sons poison and instructed them to put it in her father’s oatmeal. Marc claimed he refused to poison his grandfather, but with Larry, he did follow through with the theft: The two teens stole about $200,000 in checks, stock certificates, and cash and handed over a sizable portion of the stash to their mother.

Still not satisfied, Schreuder paid a hit man, Myles Manning, $5,000 to murder her father. Manning took the money but never followed through with the hit. Schreuder became more adamant that Marc do the job. When he resisted, she threatened to kick him out of the house if he did not comply with her wishes. Marc later testified that his mother cajoled with the words “Look Marc, it is not really killing. It is the right thing to do for us.” Marc gave in: On July 23, 1978, he entered his seventy-six-year-old grandfather’s Salt Lake City auto-parts warehouse and, at point-blank range with a .357 Magnum handgun, shot and killed Bradshaw.

Uninvolved family members believed a robber killed Bradshaw, but Schreuder’s sister, Reagan, Marilyn Bradshaw Marilyn Bradshaw Reagan, was reportedly less than convinced. Reagan offered a $10,000 reward for information regarding the murder of her father. Despite Marc’s petitions for his mother to get rid of the evidence by destroying or dumping the murder weapon, Schreuder had turned the .357 over to a friend to whom she allegedly owed $3,000, offering the firearm as repayment. The less-than-thrilled friend went to Reagan for the reward money instead. When Reagan delivered the weapon to authorities, fingerprints traced back to Marc and Frances Schreuder.

Arrested in 1981, Marc Schreuder went on trial in 1982—represented by Paul Van Dam, the lawyer who later became Utah’s attorney general. Implicated as the mastermind, Frances Schreuder went on trial in 1983. Berenice Jewett Bradshaw, Schreuder’s mother, reportedly spent up to $2 million to provide legal support for her daughter and grandson. According to Van Dam and others, including biographer Jonathan Coleman, Marc was a tense and guarded young man who was reticent to testify against his controlling mother. Marc, Van Dam said, was “the most psychologically abused kid” he had ever seen. Marc did not decide to testify until the evening before the trial began.

Marc’s agreeing to testify was no doubt linked to the work of sympathetic detectives and prosecution, and to Marc’s realization that his mother was more than willing to see him take the full blame while she took the majority of her mother’s financing of their defense. According to Coleman, Marc knew that he needed to distance himself from his mother’s hold, and it is more likely that he decided to testify because he wanted to protect his younger sister, Lavinia, from their mother.

Frances Schreuder consistently denied culpability, but despite her claims to having no involvement in the murder of her father, and despite her fight against extradition to Salt Lake City from New York, she was brought to trial in Salt Lake City, convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison. At Utah State Prison, until her parole in 1996, Schreuder behaved as a model inmate, earning two psychology degrees from Utah State University by way of the inmate-education program sponsored by her own mother.

Marc Schreuder, who at his mother’s trial testified he had begged and pleaded with his mother not to force him to kill his grandfather but who acquiesced when she threatened to disown him, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to five to ten years in prison. He actually served thirteen years, earning a degree in construction from Salt Lake Community College while incarcerated at Utah State Prison. He was paroled in 1995 and moved to Provo, Utah, where he began work for a nutritional and personal-care products company.

In 1996, at the age of ninety-four, Berenice Bradshaw died, leaving her daughter $1 million in a trust fund to be dispersed annually. Marc and Frances attended Berenice’s funeral, but they did not speak to one another. On April 7, 2004, the sixty-five-year-old Frances Schreuder died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at a San Diego, California, hospice house. Lavinia, living in San Diego, and Larry, living in Los Angeles, attended their mother’s funeral. Marc Schreuder, who had reconciled with his mother the year before, attended as well. Interviewed that morning, he merely told reporters his mother should be left to rest in peace.

Impact

The crime and trial caused a national sensation. The picture of Frances Schreuder’s arrest depicted her not as a socialite dripping with the thousands of dollars worth of jewels she was said to indulge in but as a dark and disturbed person—eyes glowering at the camera with a sinister stare. The media offered extended coverage, two journalists published best-selling books, and television hosted two miniseries and a Court TV (now truTV) documentary on the scandal.

The scandal impacted Frances Schreuder’s sons as well—particularly Marc, who, after suffering the mental abuse and manipulation by his mother for years, was sentenced to prison for the crime she convinced him to commit. Marc had, he told reporters, done everything he could to please his Svengali-like mother. Bradshaw, Franklin James Bradshaw, Berenice Jewett Schreuder, Frances

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Alexander, Shana. Nutcracker: Money, Madness, Murder—A Family Album. New York: Doubleday, 1985. A veteran journalist offers a narrative of the scandalous murder of Bradshaw with telling detail.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Coleman, Jonathan. At Mother’s Request: A True Story of Money, Murder, and Betrayal. New York: Atheneum, 1985. Former editor Coleman brings a massive amount of research to this true-crime retelling of the Bradshaw-Schreuder murder scandal.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Davis, Carol Ann. Couples Who Kill. London: Allison & Busby, 2007. Among the eighteen entries providing a thorough examination of partners in crime is “Mother Knows Best,” the study of Frances and Marc Schreuder and the psychodynamics of their collaborative murder.

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