The Long, Troubled History Of Anheuser-Busch Heir August Busch IV

By on July 3, 2019 in ArticlesBillionaire News

Trouble has long dogged August Busch IV. It first reared its head on November 13, 1983 when the body of a 22-year-old woman named Michele Frederick was found on the side of the road in Tucson, Arizona. Nearby, was a demolished 1984 Corvette. Inside that Corvette were empty Bud Light cans, a .44-caliber Magnum revolver, and a wallet with a driver's license inside. The license was from Missouri and issued to August A. Busch IV. Busch was a 19-year-old student at the University of Arizona and heir to the Anheuser-Busch beer fortune.

The police dispatched themselves to Busch's townhouse later that morning. They found him naked with just a sheet covering his midsection. His torso was covered in dried blood. Bloody clothes were found in his townhouse along with a semiautomatic rifle and a loaded, sawed off shotgun. Busch didn't know what had happened, but he gave blood and urine samples to the police, which were later lost, according to the book Under the Influence: The Unauthorized Story of the Anheuser-Busch Dynasty.

Tucson police acknowledged that Busch had been the driver of the Corvette when it crashed and killed Frederick. No charges against him were ever brought.

That was the first time Busch IV, known as "The Fourth" made headlines for the wrong reasons. It should be noted that Busch has never been convicted of anything and vehemently denies all these old stories about his wilder days (days that seemingly continue until at least 2017). In addition to the Corvette crash, he was allegedly involved in a high speed car chase, a second mysterious death, and a truly bizarre episode involving a helicopter – most of which also involved firearms.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

William Knoedelseder is the author of Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer. He said: "They were not unlike the Kennedy family. They were like the Kennedys of St. Louis. I like to say they were like the Kennedys, but with guns."

According to Forbes, in St. Louis, Busch was known as a party boy and playboy who always had an attractive woman on his arm. Two years after the fatal crash in Tucson, on May 31, 1985, Busch almost crashed his Mercedes into an unmarked police car. The police began to chase him. Busch was on his way home from a nearby topless bar. The chase that ensued lasted 20 minutes at high speed and came to an end when one of the officers shot out the left rear tire of Busch's car. When the officers realized it was August Busch IV and not a drug dealer, they reportedly changed his tire for him. He did end up being charged with three counts of third-degree assault for banging into police cars during the chase. Oh, and a .38 revolver was on the floor of the Mercedes. He went to trial, but Busch was found not guilty. His lawyer argued that Busch thought he was being chased by kidnappers.

Busch got his start in the family business in his early 20s as a brewery apprentice. He was promoted to senior brand manager for Bud Dry Draft in early 1990. Over the next decade he was elevated to vice president of Budweiser brands and vice president of brand management.

By the time August IV settled down in his 40s and married 26-year-old Kathryn Thatcher, he was deemed fit to be promoted to CEO. It was 2006. He was good at his new role, putting together the $82 million acquisition of Rolling Rock as well as introducing 14 microbrews with higher profit margins. But his time as CEO was limited. In July 2008, the board of Anheuser-Busch agreed to a $52 billion takeover by rival InBev. Busch IV sat on the InBev board, but his executive position was taken away. Around the same time he and his wife divorced quickly. They had no children.

Then, a bit after 1:00pm on December 19, 2010, the Frontenac, Missouri police department received a call about an unresponsive person at a home in one of St. Louis' wealthiest neighborhoods. When police arrived, it was August Busch IV's home. He was standing in the doorway to the patio. The woman, Adrienne Martin, Busch's 27-year-old girlfriend, was in the bedroom, lying on her back on the bed, and not breathing. Her lips were blue.

The room was in disarray. Gatorade bottles, flashlights, power cords, remote controls, and other items were strewn haphazardly about the room. In the adjacent bathroom, police found a loaded shotgun as well as a loaded Glock with an extended magazine. The Glock was hanging on a hook next to the roll of toilet paper. Also found in the bathroom were three prescription bottles in Adrienne Martin's name. There was no sign of a struggle. Police found small traces of cocaine in the room.

Busch told the police that he and Adrienne had a steak dinner the night before. He said she didn't feel well lately. He claimed he went to bed at 6pm and she stayed up and didn't come to bed until 2am. At 3am, Busch said he woke up and noticed that Martin was awake but out of it. He said that he went back to sleep and didn't wake up until around 1pm. He went to the kitchen to make protein shakes for the two of them. He tried to wake Martin up and when he couldn't, he asked one of his domestic staff to call 911.

Busch said that Martin wasn't on any prescription drugs and hadn't used any illegal drugs. However, the medical examiner found cocaine and oxycodone in her system and reported that a small hole in Martin's nasal septum indicated habitual cocaine use. Her cause of death was listed as an accidental oxycodone overdose.

Months later, Adrienne Martin's ex-husband Kevin filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Martin's son. Adrienne's parents also joined the suit. Busch denied any responsibility for her death, but the lawsuit was settled for $1.75 million in October 2012. Police declined to press any charges against Busch in the death of Adrienne Martin.

Not much was heard from Busch until July 10, 2017 when he was thought to be flying a helicopter while under the influence. According to The New York Daily News, the helicopter landed in the parking lot of the office building around 1pm. Then, seven hours later, police were called with the report that a drunk man was attempting to take off in a helicopter. When the police arrived, Busch was in the pilot seat of the helicopter.

When the police arrived at the parking lot, Busch's helicopter's engine was on and the blades were rotating. He complied with the police's request to turn the helicopter off. They then did basic sobriety tests.

Officers on the scene described Busch's speech as rambling. He volunteered the information that he was carrying a weapon for which he had a concealed weapons permit. He did not tell the authorities where he had been since he landed the chopper earlier in the day. He also did not tell them where he, his wife, and their eight dogs were heading.

Police found three additional loaded weapons in the helicopter. Busch was wearing a dog leash as a belt.

Busch's Breathalyzer test found that he had no alcohol in his system. He submitted to blood tests and those also came back clean.

Articles Written by Amy Lamare
Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for www.hsx.com. She has written for Los Angeles Magazine, Your Tango, Thinknum Media, and various airline magazines. Follow her on Facebook. Amy's favorite self-made billionaire is Sara Blakely.
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