The Bizarre “Bitter Blood” Murders

State and local authorities investigate the scene where Klenner’s Blazer blew up. Image from the News & Record.On June 3, 1985, a Chevrolet Blazer driven by Fritz Klenner exploded during a police chase in Summerfield, north of Greensboro. Klenner, a native of Reidsville, was a suspect in the murders of three people in Winston-Salem and two in Kentucky. Also in the Blazer were Susie Newsom Lynch and her sons John and Jim.

Klenner, who had deceived and manipulated family and friends for years, had become romantically involved with his first cousin, Susie Newsom Lynch, after she divorced. The murders appear to be rooted in the couple’s belief that Lynch’s ex-husband and other family were conspiring to take the boys from her.

Klenner, who for many years pretended to be a medical student at Duke to please his father, added service in the CIA to his imagined resume.

Klenner is suspected of having killed his cousin’s former mother-in-law and her daughter in Kentucky in 1984 in an attempt to make the ex-husband appear to have mafia ties. In mid May 1985, he killed Lynch’s parents and grandmother in their Winston-Salem home with assistance from a misguided friend who believed he was “auditioning” for the CIA.

With law enforcement closing in on the couple a few weeks later, Klenner loaded his Blazer with weapons and rigged it to explode. Susie’s remains were found in a nearby culvert, blown apart by the bomb that must have been under her seat. One of the Kentucky detectives located Klenner, barely alive, in a ditch. Hoping for a confession the detective leaned an ear toward Klenner, who gurgled blood and died.

Evidence later revealed that the young boys had been poisoned with cyanide and shot in the head by their mother prior to the explosion.

The story of the Klenner and his crimes is chronicled in Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder, a bestselling book by Jerry Bledsoe, who was writing for the Greensboro News and Record at the time.

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