Secrets from the Grave

A man who cheated death more than once dies under strange circumstances

Bill Flint spent his life cheating death -- not once, not twice, but three times. His friends say this is a story of how a lot of bad things happened to a really good person. Correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports.

Bill Flint was kind enough to support his friends and tough enough to survive his enemies, right up to the end. But his life started out simple, in rural Massachusetts, where he was one of four children.

Flint moved to Texas and became an industrial electrician. But he always stayed in touch with his family. His life, however, started to get complicated in 1988, when he met Cassandra through church. A few months later, they were married.

But the true love of Flint's life, according to close friends Liz and Tim, was his daughter, who was born a year later. His daughter, who is now a teenager, asked "48 Hours" not to use her real name. We'll call her "Jane."

"He was my best friend," says Flint's daughter, "Jane."

Not long after "Jane" was born, Bill and Cassandra's marriage was in trouble. The couple started seeing marriage counselor Larry Deutsch. "In the beginning, it seemed to work OK. Bill and Cassandra seemed to be coming together," says Deutsch.

But it just seemed that way. In December 1993, Flint learned to his great surprise, that he and Cassandra were divorced. What was his first clue that he was divorced? "When the sheriff showed up at the door to escort him off the property," says Liz.

Cassandra Flint not only pursued a divorce without telling her husband or her marriage counselor, she got one.

According to Betty Yarter, the Texas country lawyer Flint eventually had to hire, Flint never knew a divorce trial had been scheduled because the court only had an old address for him. "The notification for trial went to his last known address that the court had on file," says Yarter. "And this happened to be his old work address which he no longer worked at."

Flint's absence from the courtroom cost him enormously. Cassandra claimed that their daughter, when she was 2, said that Flint had molested her. The judge believed Cassandra enough to order that Flint could have only supervised contact with his daughter.

A grand jury refused to indict Flint on the abuse charges. "Which doesn't happen in Harris County, especially where sexual assault of a child is concerned," says Yarter. "It just doesn't happen."

But even though Flint was cleared of criminal charges in the matter, the accusations Cassandra made at their divorce trial were still on the books in Family Court.

It wasn't long before Cassandra made her next move against Bill. "She says he had threatened to kill her," says Yarter. "In the state of Texas, that is considered a terroristic threat [so he was arrested.]"

This time, Flint faced a jury trial. But it didn't take long at all for them to react a verdict: not guilty. But it wasn't over for Flint, who decided to fight for full custody of his daughter. That's when things started getting dangerous.

Flint's life was being threatened by Cassandra's brother, Ralph Smith.

It was the first of several threats, from several people. And Flint was frightened enough to file a complaint with the police, claiming his ex-wife had also threatened him. He said he wanted it "documented in case something happened in the future."

A month after Flint filed the complaint, he headed out the door for work and into an ambush.

"I heard him get the garbage and go out the front door. And about two minutes later, I heard gunshots," says his landlord, Howard Hester. "More than one, I heard two. Rapid and I came to the front door and I looked out the front door and here Bill was, out here on his knees."

Hester says that even as Flint lay bleeding on the ground, he wasted no time identifying his attackers: Cassandra's brother, Ralph, and the new man in Cassandra's life, Charlton Andras, whom she had just married four months earlier.

"He was hollering 'Charlton Andras and Smith did this to me,'" recalls Hester. "'I want to make sure that you know who did this to me in case I die.'"

"The guy was in just horrible condition. He had lacerations all over his head from being beaten," says Det. Kevin Crislip, who was amazed Flint was still alive after being attacked and shot. A bullet had missed Flint's spinal cord by just two millimeters.