UPDATE September 7, 2018:
Frances A. Hall, the San Antonio wife who was convicted of killing her trucking magnate husband during a 2013 highway chase with him and his lover, is a free woman again after her release from prison Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, the San Antonio Express-News reports.
November 15, 2016:
A toxic love triangle between a multimillionaire, his wife and a young manipulative lover.
Bill Hall Jr. was a self-made man with plenty of money in the bank and a loving wife. But he also had a big secret, one that loving wife wouldn't be too happy to know about.
A snapshot of a twisted love triangle that will ultimately be threshed out in front of a jury, a sick feud that would leave a father dead, a wife in handcuffs, and cause a then-28-year-old Bonnie Contreras to become one of the most despised young women in all of Texas.
Bonnie Contreras is the target of mud-slinging, and she's tired of it. Contreras has been labeled the architect of a toxic love triangle that comes to a head off the edge of Loop 1604 in San Antonio, Texas. It's where the lives of Bonnie Contreras, her lover Bill Hall Jr. and his longtime wife Frances Hall all collide -- and only two will walk away alive. Bill's wife Frances lost everything -- including her freedom.
At the center of the two women's affection was Bill Hall Jr., the owner of one of San Antonio's most successful trucking companies. He bought his first truck in the early 1980s and it grew into Bill Hall Jr. Trucking, a transport business that at its peak was worth more than $15 million. He and Frances had been married for more than 30 years, and had two children together.
Bonnie Contreras says that over three years she and Bill become inseparable. They even put out Christmas cards together. The married man lavished his mistress with five-star getaways and expensive gifts.
Contreras says it was about a month into their relationship that she found out he was married.
"I said, you know, 'Are you married?' And he said 'Yes, I'm married, I'm going through a divorce,' and I said 'Oh, OK,' and never again bothered him about it," said Contreras. "I felt like it wasn't my place to ask him."
In reality though, there were no plans to divorce. Bill and Frances, high-school sweethearts, were married for 32 years.
If it's all just a fling with Bonnie, Bill disguises it well. Within months, he proclaims his love. But privately, Bill is cooling down, telling friends he wants out of the relationship.
"His closest friends would tell you he couldn't get out," said Leigh Cutter, Frances Hall's defense attorney. "[Contreras] had taken all these tidbits of evidence, compromising photos, she had weaseled her way into different facets of his life and was basically blackmailing him."
Soon, things spun out of control. Bonnie calls Frances and reveals everything. That triggers a flurry of savage text messages back and forth between Bill's competing love interests.
"Calls the wife, tells her everything and in the hours that follow, here come the videos of the mistress and Bill having sex," said Leigh Cutter. "Very graphic footage. Here come videos of the mistress naked with Frances's husband. Pictures of a hysterectomy diagram, saying 'Frances you are hollow from the inside, no wonder Bill can't be with you, you're not a real woman anymore.'"
"I was calling her every vicious name in the book -- well so was she. I was defending myself," Bonnie said.
Bill's daughter Nikki Hall says Bonnie wasn't trying to defend herself, she was threatening to take her dad down. Bonnie denies ever blackmailing anyone, telling Crime Watch Daily that Bill was with her because he loved her.
Then came allegations of stalking.
Imagine finding out your husband is cheating on you, and then being taunted by the mistress. That's exactly what investigators say Frances Hall was dealing with when she got behind the wheel and made a deadly decision.
Prosecutors say Frances Hall was so jealous of her husband's romance with a younger lover that she ran him over with her car. In a Crime Watch Daily exclusive, we talk to that mistress about the days leading up to Bill Hall Jr.'s death.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and when it comes to relationship drama, that was definitely the case for self-made millionaire Bill Hall Jr. He was caught between his wife and his young lover. And police say a freak coincidence would end with one of them dead and another in handcuffs.
Frances, 50, the matriarch of the large and wealthy Hall family, is losing her grip, embroiled in a venomous war of words with her husband's mistress Bonnie Contreras, who is almost half her age.
"She had told my mother that she was going to show up at my mother's office and beat her up," said daughter Nikki Hall.
Frances had never met her husband's mistress, but on October 13, 2013, on Loop 1604 in San Antonio, they collide.
"Frances is leaving her niece's volleyball game, comes to a stoplight and sees Bill go by on his big custom Harley," said Leigh Cutter, Frances Hall's defense attorney. "A few seconds later she sees her Range Rover, her $130,000 Range Rover, drive by, with this woman she has never laid eyes on in her life."
"We came to that stoplight and he's like 'Roll your window down,' so I rolled my window down, and my cousin was on the speakerphone, and he goes 'I love you so much gorda,' he goes 'I'm so happy,' and I said, 'I love you too, hon'.' And then the light turned green and that was the last time I heard his voice," said Bonnie Contreras.
Frances's 32-year-marriage in ruins, her husband's young mistress driving her family car -- she is suddenly out of her mind.
"She was seeing black. She had gotten all these things, attacking her personally, and she was done," said Leigh Cutter, Frances's defense attorney. "She says 'I grip the steering wheel, and I just go that [-------] [-----].'"
Frances hits the gas in her black Cadillac Escalade and makes a U-turn -- a decision that will destroy many lives.
"She calls me and tells me, 'I just saw your dad and Bonnie, I'm gonna turn around and confront her,'" said Nikki Hall, Bill and Frances's daughter.
"She had tunnel vision," said prosecuting attorney Scott Simpson. "I do believe she wasn't going to stop until she had the opportunity to get at Bonnie."
Bill, a multimillionaire, loved life in the fast lane. But he couldn't have expected this: his two lovers in a game of life-and-death cat-and-mouse on the highway.
"I've got a black Escalade and a Range Rover passing people on the wrong side of the road on 1604 going towards Highway 90. They're traveling at a high rate of speed, I don't know, 90, 100 miles per hour, acting like idiots," a caller says on a recorded 911 report from that night.
"I feel somebody hit me from behind, and at first I thought it was an accident," said Bonnie Contreras. "And then I was like 'What the heck?' Then I felt it again, and I look through my rearview mirror and it's Frances in the truck."
Bonnie claims Frances rammed her 14 times.
"Bill was in front of me, Bill didn't know she was behind me, and Bill was on the bike, and then she just kept ramming me and ramming me," said Bonnie. "I was flooring it more, pushing on the gas more to get away from her. So she kept hitting me and hitting me and she threw me onto oncoming traffic."
But from Frances Hall's defense team, a wildly different story.
"Bonnie is playing this cat-and-mouse game, she is slamming on her brakes and brake-checking Frances constantly," said attorney Leigh Cutter.
"She's brake-checking to try to get Frances to her, and Frances's reaction to that is to still chase her -- how does that make any sense whatsoever?" said prosecuting attorney Scott Simpson.
As the chase unfolds, a chilling voicemail arrives from Frances's daughter Nikki: "I told you to watch your back, you stupid slut."
"That voicemail just really haunted us because they wanted to use that as some sort of motive," said Nikki Hall.
Evidence that Bonnie says shows what Frances is about to do to the father of her two children is deliberate, and pre-meditated.
"And I remember yelling at the top of my lungs, and I yelled, 'Frances just hit Bill," said Bonnie. "I was yelling, I was crying, I wanted to stop, I didn't know what to do, I didn't know who to call, I didn't know if he was alive or dead, and this woman, after she hit him, she still kept going after me."
"At some point she brake-checks Frances so hard that Frances says 'My steering wheel starts to chatter and shakes, I fishtail a little bit,'" said Cutter. "At that exact point Bill is so close behind Frances that he has to veer off to the side of the road. Ultimately he overcorrects and it comes back in and hits the back of Frances's car."
"I just saw an Escalade side-swipe a motorcycle and a man needs medical attention immediately," a caller said during a 911 report.
As emergency teams are dispatched, Frances continues the high-speed chase.
"She had just hit her husband, a man that she claims to be in love with, that she's in love with, that will always be the love of her life, but yet you don't stop and see if he is dead or alive?" said Bonnie Contreras.
Frances's claim ultimately was that she was unaware she had struck Bill.
"There's no way that she didn't see him," said Bonnie. "He's on a bike, you're in an Escalade. You have clear view."
Eventually Bonnie escapes. But when she returns to the crash site, Bill is clinging to life.
Frances is there too, and police quickly notice her damaged Cadillac. The rear window of the Escalade is completely blown out.
As Bill struggles to breathe, police set their sights on Frances.
"A patrol officer comes by and tells the sergeant, 'Hey I'm talking to someone over here' -- which was Bonnie -- 'who says that the wife ran him off the road.' At the time Frances hears this, she gets up and leaves her dying husband's side and starts to walk away," said Scott Simpson.
Moments later, Frances Hall, a 50-year-old mother with no criminal history, is in handcuffs. She is being processed at the police station when Bill dies in the hospital.
The dramatic trial that follows captures national attention. Despite tearful testimony, the jury finds Frances Hall guilty on one count of murder, and another of aggravated assault. She's looking at life behind bars. But the jury finds her crimes to have been an act of what Texas lawmakers call "Sudden Passion."
"Sudden Passion then changes that range of punishment to 2 to 20," said Simpson. "And when you're in law school, what they teach you is the classic example of Sudden Passion is when you walk in and find your spouse having sex with another person."
The defense argued for the lightest possible punishment, claiming the crash was an accident. Frances Hall was sentenced two years for murder.
"Even in the walls of the Bexar County Courthouse I could not find a woman who didn't say to me, like, 'I would've done the same thing,' or 'I would have done much worse,'" said San Antonio Express-News Reporter Elizabeth Zavala, who covered the trial. "And the men pretty much across the board were like, 'When was the last time a man was able to get a Sudden Passion defense for killing his wife?'"
Frances Hall tells her story to Crime Watch Daily from behind bars at a women's prison in Gatesville, Texas.
"I'm still in a cell. I haven't gone out to general population or anything," said Frances. "Everything's in the cell, so I'm practically there 23 hours and 40 minutes a day, and I want to go home.
"I never, never would have hurt my husband -- never. Not a day or a minute goes by that I don't think about him," said Frances. "I will love him till the day I die. I will never, never forget him.
"I am guilty. I'm guilty of turning around and following her. That I'm guilty of," said Frances. "And I have a two-year sentence. But he'll never come back. He'll never be back. I will never get to feel his touch, his embrace, never smell him. Never.
"He has paid the ultimate price, and with that I have to live with," said Frances. "But I know in my heart of hearts that I didn't hit him. I know, and if I did it was an accident."
Bill's young mistress Bonnie Contreras says there was nothing accidental about it.
"She felt betrayed, she felt embarrassed," said Bonnie. "Do I understand all of those things? Absolutely I do. I'm a woman. I understand when a woman goes into rage and wants to do bad things. But contain yourself. Her turning that vehicle around, that was her decision."
According to San Antonio Prosecutor Scott Simpson, whether Frances intended to run Bill off the road or not is largely irrelevant.
"Once she's committing the act of trying to ram a vehicle on the highway at high rates of speed, and her husband gets run off the road and killed, she's guilty of felony murder," said Simpson.
"I was so busy braking and then chasing her that I just assumed Bill was on the shoulder," Frances says from prison. "I just assumed he was parked somewhere."
"There is a paint chip from the motorcycle in the cargo bay of that Escalade," said Simpson. "When that handlebar hit that window, that window shattered immediately."
"I kept going down and I'm like 'Wait a minute, why is this window broken?'" says Frances. "I heard something when I braked, as God is my witness."
"If anyone was guilty of anything, I would say it's Bonnie Contreras of reckless driving. Period," said Frances Hall's defense attorney Leigh Cutter.
"I was just willing to go through it all with him, you know, through the ups, the downs, the divorce, all the mud that was going to come through it, all the hell that she was probably going to put both of us through," said Bonnie Contreras. "I loved this man. I still do."
"Even as I was going to trial I would tell my attorneys not to badmouth him, not to disrespect him. He's my Bill," said Frances. "He had this much bad and this much good. Through the times he was leading this secret life, he made sure I was his number one. I love him and he's the only man I will ever love."
But Frances shows no love or forgiveness for the other woman in Bill's life, who she claims shattered her world.
"I know that I never broke up that family," said Bonnie. "That family was already broken. She is without him, I am without him, these kids are without a dad, his grandbabies are without a grandpa. So it would be selfish of me to sit here and say part of me forgives her -- but I do."
But not enough to drop her civil action. Bonnie Contreras is seeking $2.5 million from the Hall family, alleging emotional distress from the car chase.
"I find myself in certain situations quite often where I can be driving and out of nowhere I'll lose it. I just start crying," said Bonnie.
"I still don't know if I hit him or he hit me, and with that I will live with the rest of my life with it," said Frances.
"Because if I did it, oh my God there is so much remorse in me, and if they want me to show remorse, I have remorse.
"Sometimes I tell my kids that all that's left of me is a shell of a woman," said Frances. "But I have to be there for them. They've lost their father."
March 27, 2017
Attorneys Misty Marris and Michael Cavalluzzi discuss the case: