Yesterday afternoon, on a busy street in midtown Manhattan, a law student named Brandon Woodard (above, left) was shot once in the head by an unknown assailant, who hopped into a waiting car and quickly melted into traffic. Woodard died of his wound in a nearby hospital; police are still looking for his killer and the getaway driver.
As if the case wasn't mysterious enough, it got weirder today, as Tony award-winning former soap star Tonya Pinkins (above, right) advanced the beginnings of an odd conspiracy theory involving Woodard, his parents, and Pinkins' ex-boyfriend. "We've been waiting for something like this," she told Showbiz411 columnist Roger Friedman. "Their enemies list is huge."
Pinkins, who might be known as much for the extended custody battle she waged throughout the 90s (in which she eventually represented herself, and from which she emerged nearly $100,000 in debt) as for her role as Livia Frye on All My Children or her Tony award for Jelly's Last Jam, has apparently been locked in a feud with Woodard's mother, Sandra McBeth Reynolds, for years.
According to Pinkins, Reynolds is a "big Black Collar criminal... connected to judges" who forged documents and engaged in real estate scams with Woodard:
Pinkins says murdered Brandon Woodard's name is on documents created by his mother on various loans and mortgages. "She would sell properties to Brandon and then he would default on them." Pinkins says she has a mound of paperwork with McBeth and Woodard's names, a complicated paper trail. "The number of people they burned, and people who lost their homes, is huge. Their enemies list is huge."
In 2009, to bolster her accusations against Reynolds, Pinkins created a website, Legally Proven Facts About Sandra McBeth, with links to court cases in which Reynolds had been involved; Reynolds sued over the website, lost, and in response created her own site, The Official Blog of Sandra Kay McBeth.
Reynolds is no longer married to Woodard's father, James Reynolds (the two are, according to Pinkins, fighting over $30 million that disappeared). She's now hitched to — surprise, surprise — Pinkins' ex-boyfriend, the disbarred lawyer Rodney David Wellington, whom Pinkins told Friedman has "legal and substance abuse problems." Wellington and McBeth Reynolds have custody of Pinkins and Wellington's 16-year-old daughter. Here is a chart I have made to help keep this all straight.
The World According to Tonya Pinkins
Pinkins says that she wasn't surprised that Woodard, who'd been arrested for stealing food and wine from supermarkets in 2008 and 2009, was killed like this. Neither, it seems, were his friends:
Mr. Woodard had been a fixture on the party and club scene in Los Angeles, a world of expensive alcohol and private tables where, friends said, people from elite pedigrees, like Mr. Woodard, might be seated next to those with seamier backgrounds. A friend in Los Angeles, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted by those who killed Mr. Woodard, said he had drifted into a rougher crowd. "It's a tragic ending," the friend said.
A friend of Mr. Woodard's in New York said, "It's funny to me that he didn't say he was coming here." The friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the suspects in the killing were still at large, last spoke to Mr. Woodard earlier this year when he was staying at a Park Avenue hotel. The friend said Mr. Woodard felt comfortable hobnobbing with well-known athletes or other stars at clubs. "He could go anywhere and know people — L.A. or Vegas or New York," the friend said. "He was one of those guys."
And yet police don't seem to have locked on his family as the cause for his death, and Pinkins is the only person selling this particular connection. This afternoon, NYPD released surveillance video of the shooting; they've also linked the gun to a 2009 shooting in Queens. If you know anything about Woodard's family or death, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.