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Murder of Bradley St Clair by Keith Shell and Susan Clevenger investigated in On The Case With Paula Zahn

Mugshots of Susan Clevenger and Keith Shell
Susan Clevenger and Keith Shell orchestrated a kidnap plot of Bradley St. Clair, which led to his murder. Pic credit: CA Dept. of Corrections and Bakersfield PD

On The Case With Paula Zahn is examing the murder of Bradley “Brad” St. Clair, who was killed in the most violent fashion by Keith Shell in his office in Bakersfield, California, in 2000.

St. Clair was the third-generation owner of St. Clair Investments when he became the victim of a kidnapping plot orchestrated by his receptionist Susan Clevenger and her boyfriend, Shell. The cops also suspect there may have been a third accomplice.

On August 7, 2000, Shell entered St. Clair’s office with the intention of kidnapping the 31-year-old businessman and holding him for a ransom. However, the kidnap was aborted when a panic alarm was activated. A struggle ensued, and St. Clair was strangled with his necktie.

When the police arrived at the bookkeeper’s office, they found St. Clair lying face down on the floor. His arms and legs had been duct tapped, as had his eyes and mouth.

The duct tape provided a crucial clue for the cops. A palm print from the tape matched Shell, and a strand of hair from the tape matched Clevenger’s DNA.

Clevenger’s younger brother, Robert Clevenger, approached the police after the murder to say his sister had attempted to recruit him into the kidnap plot.

The cops concluded that Clevenger had masterminded the plot and had arranged for St. Clair to be on his own in the office when her violent boyfriend entered.

Shell was convicted of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and kidnap for ransom causing death. He was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

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Clevenger’s case was more complicated; she was initially convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping for ransom causing death, which led to three life sentences.

However, because of new legislation passed in 2021, which ruled a defendant could not be sentenced to life for murder if they were not directly involved, Clevenger’s murder sentence was reduced to 8 years. The two other life sentences remained, so Clevenger will still likely die in prison.

Possible third culprit in Bradley St. Clair murder case

There was a further twist in the case, which means the investigation remains open. The cops found a blood sample at the murder scene which didn’t belong to St. Clair, Shell, or Clevenger.

St. Clair stood at over 6 feet and was a muscular 220 lbs, which has led some to suspect that Shell would have needed help to overpower him. This has left the cops hunting a third accomplice.

There is currently a reward of $75,000 for any info that leads to this individual’s apprehension. Members of the public are asked to call the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111 if they have any information.

More from On The Case With Paula Zahn

Follow the links to read about more murders examined by Paula Zahn.

Julie Ferguson was just 17-years-old when she vanished while waiting for friends to pick her up from the mall. Her murdered body was found a few miles away, and her killer has never been found.

Laurie Harm was just 16 years old when Jose Rodriguez Medrano broke into her Kennewick, Washington, home and brutally stabbed her to death. The twisted monster stabbed her a shocking 61 times before fleeing.

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On The Case With Paula Zahn airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry specializes in writing about true crime, the Royal family, The...read more

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