Grab That Cash with Both Hands
The story of a frugal millionaire and his hit-man grandson
When 49-year-old bestselling author Thomas Thompson died (far too soon) in 1982 he was working on a story about a murder-for-hire debacle hatched by New York socialite Frances Schreuder.
Mrs. Schreuder, once a board member for the New York City Ballet and the daughter of oil-magnate Franklin Bradshaw, hired her teen son to kill his grandfather. Her twisted scheme went as planned because her boy was well trained, until it didn’t.
Her motive wasn’t a mystery: she wanted her inheritance and her dad had cut her out of the will. Her method, however, took betrayal and revenge to new depths. She recruited Marc Schreuder, then 17, to travel across the country to Salt Lake City and kill the old man.
For a while, mother and son got away with it.
But greed and narcissism proved hard to suppress. Where originally police considered Bradshaw’s violent death part of a robbery, new evidence pointed to homicide. After a friend of the family told cops he had the murder weapon, a complicated maze of inter-generational wealth, dubious parenting, and family dysfunction soon emerged.
On his death bed, author and journalist Thompson handed over his research notes to his friend Shana Alexander, who wrote Nutcracker: Money, Madness, Murder: A Family Album. (Her book proved to be a pale reflection of what Thompson might have given us, but it sold well).
One of the greatest true crime writers to ever wield a pen, Thompson was digging into what ultimately proved a timeless tale about a woman unfit to be a mother.
Franklin, the grandfather
Franklin Bradshaw, 76, was believed to be among the richest men in the US when he died in July 1978. He was shot to death while working the counter at one of his auto parts stores, located in a run-down section of Salt Lake City. He was just getting started on his usual 16-hour workday.
Despite being worth somewhere between $20 and $400 million (no one knew), Franklin lived a modest — most would say absurdly frugal — lifestyle.