Their marriage was an all-too-familiar tale. Audrey Smith was a young showgirl, going by the name of Audrey Adair. Sheldon A. Clark was the spoiled son of a wealthy executive of Sinclair Refining Company.

He spotted her on stage, made his move, and after they had known each other only 18 hours, they eloped.

Two weeks later she was ready to call it quits ... but decided to stick it out. When Clark was sober, she said, he treated her very well. But when he was drunk, which was often, he was a bully who sometimes used his wife as a punching bag.

Sometimes she fought back, such as the time she chased him around the yard swinging a baseball bat at him.

But the night he whacked her over the head with a billiard stick she did something she claimed she couldn't remember afterward. She took one of his guns and with one shot ended his life.

The following newspaper stories tell the tale:

Syracuse Journal, November 21, 1933
PAULSBORO, New Jersey (INS) — Still suffering from shock and hysteria, Mrs. Audrey Smith Clark, former stage beauty, today was under police guard in a Woodbury hospital while authorities here prepared to lodge charges against her for the fatal shooting of her husband, Sheldon A. Clark, son of a wealthy Chicago sportsman and vice president of Sinclair Refining Company.

Clark, an officer in the Marine Corps during the World War and employed as a maintenance engineer by the refining company, was shot and killed in the basement billiard room and bar of his palatial home here after an argument with his wife, in which he struck her on the head with a weighted end of a billiard cue, police said.

Although County Detective W. Clayton Apgar, who was summoned to the Clark home shortly after the shooting, and Police Chief W. J. Mattson said Mrs. Clark had confessed the shooting, no charges were filed against the former showgirl, whom Clark had married in 1925 in Richmond, Virginia, where he had followed the show company in which Mrs. Clark was then playing. The couple have two children, Sheldon 3rd, six years old, and Harry, 4.

According to George Johnson, 35, a boilermaker and friend of Clark, who was playing billiards with the heir to the Clark fortune when the shooting occurred, the argument between Clark and his wife started when the latter asked if Clark would be at home for dinner.

Johnson, who was held in $1,000 bail as a material witness, told police Clark informed his wife he would not be home, and the argument ensued.

Mrs. Clark became angry and left the room, according to Johnson and Mrs. Lavinia Brown, cook and housekeeper, who summoned the police after the shooting.

The housekeeper said she heard the couple exchanging angry words, then heard Mrs. Clark scream:

"Sheldon, you've killed me!"

"Then I saw Mr. Clark with a broken billiard cue in his hand," Mrs. Brown told police, "and I could hear Mrs. Clark weeping in the dining room. Mr. Clark went on back to the billiard room."

Johnson said Clark returned to the room and resumed his billiard game.

"We played a few minutes more," he told police, "when the door of the room opened and Mrs. Clark came in. She had a bloody towel around her head. She stood there and stared sort of wildly. The she said, 'Sheldon, you've killed me.'

"Then she pulled out a pistol and before I had time to move or he had time to do anything, she pointed it at him and fired."

The bullet struck Clark in the heart, killing him instantly. As he fell, police quoted Johnson as saying Clark murmured, "It's all right, honey."

The pistol, police said, apparently was an automatic which was part of an arms collection Clark kept in his den on the first floor.

When police arrived they found Mrs. Clark in the children's bedroom in an hysterical condition. She was taken at once to Underwood Hospital at Woodbury, five miles from here, where a police guard was stationed over her.

Dr. H. L. Sinexon, called to attend her, said Mrs. Clark's injuries were not serious.

Clark was well known here, his grandfather having been the late Henry Clay Loudenslager, for many years a member of Congress and one-time secretary of the Republican National Committee.

His father, A, Sheldon Clark, is prominent as a sportsman. He was one of the judges in the Dempsey-Tunney fight in 1927, and in 1929 became president of the $7 million Chicago Stadium Corporation. He lives in Barrington, Illinois, and is vice president of the Sinclair Refining Company.

He also achieved nationwide prominence in 1927 when he was formally charged by the government with conspiracy to tamper with the jury in the Teapot Dome oil case in cooperation with Harry F. Sinclair, oil multimillionaire. Clark was placed under technical arrest when he refused to answer questions before a grand jury, but later the charge was voided.

Binghamton Press, November 22, 1933
PAULSBORO, New Jersey (AP) — Famed “Jersey justice” struck its stride today and moved in high gear upon Mrs. Audrey Smith Clark, former stage dancer charged with slaying her wealthy young husband, Sheldon A. Clark, oil company executive and sportsman.

A warrant charging murder was served on her last night at a Woodbury hospital 24 hours after her husband was shot to death in a tragic sequel to a bitter quarrel between them in their spacious home.


Buffalo Courier-Express, November 23, 1933
PAULSBORO, New Jersey — The grieving parents of Sheldon Clark buried their slain son today, and then begged the state to drop the prosecution of the wife who killed him.

Commodore A. Sheldon Clark, wealthy oil man and father of the slain man, sent his attorney to Lynwood Lord, acting prosecutor, with this message: “Mr. Clark wants to you drop all prosecution. We are convinced the shooting was an accident.”

Lord said, “I shall have to go through at least the formalities of a grand jury hearing.” He did not say whether he would quash the case.

The family forgives the young widow, auburn-haired Audrey, a former showgirl, who is in a hospital recovering from wounds on her head where she said Clark struck her with a billiard cue, and broke it, before she shot him down.

“The Clark family has no malice toward the widow,” said a statement issued for the family. “At most they regard this affair as an unfortunate accident.”

A week later, the Gloucester County Grand Jury failed to indict Audrey Clark, and she was free, pending her releasefrom Woodbury Hospital where she was recovering from the head injury inflicted by her husband just before she shot him. She inherited an estate estimated at more than $50,000. Clark also left a $30,000 trust fund for his two sons, Sheldon A. 3d, age 6, and Harry, 4.