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Fall of the House of Busch

On Dec. 18, 2010, August Busch IV and his girlfriend, Adrienne Martin, a former Hooters waitress, aspiring art therapist, and divorced mother of an 8-year-old boy, began what was, for them, a typical night in. They enjoyed a steak dinner at Busch’s home. They drank for hours, and finally went to sleep around 3 in the morning, according to the first of three versions Busch provided to authorities. He woke sometime after noon and went to the kitchen to make two protein shakes. When he returned to the bedroom with Martin’s drink, he tried to wake her. She was unconscious.

Busch lives alone in a 6,300-square-foot mansion set on four wooded acres in the village of Huntleigh, just outside St. Louis. Fifteen miles to the east is the headquarters of Anheuser-Busch, the biggest brewery in America and the maker of Budweiser beer, along with 30 other brands. The company had been run by Busch’s family for 150 years until it was devoured by the Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate InBev in 2008 in a $52 billion hostile takeover. Busch, 47, was Chief Executive Officer at the time that Anheuser-Busch was wrenched from his control. He ended his two-year marriage shortly afterward. Pretty soon, Martin, 27, was the only person who saw him regularly.