Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Spangler: Black Widower

The Plea

Arapahoe County police badge
Arapahoe County police badge

Except for just those two bad days, Spangler told investigators, he'd been a model citizen.

He denied all responsibility in the death of Sharon.

But on November 5, 2000, he pled not guilty, intimating that his brain cancer had led him to make faulty confessions.

The Arapahoe County district attorney's office consulted with Nancy's family and determined it would be a waste of money to bring him to Colorado for trial in the murder of his Littleton, Colorado family. 

"It just didn't seem like a prudent expenditure," prosecution spokesman Michael Knight said, since Spangler had an apparent month or so left to live.

The families agreed. David Fitch, Nancy Spangler's half-brother said, "If the man truly has terminal cancer, it's very unlikely he'd survive until the end of the trial."

Spangler eventually signed a plea agreement, to serve life in prison for Donna Sundling's first-degree murder.

His request to have his ashes spread in the Grand Canyon was denied.

Judy Hilty Spangler stood by her man until the very end. She said her husband had told her that his prior marriages had ended tragically, but she never suspected he was involved in their deaths. "I had no idea he was capable of this sort of thing," she said. "He always seemed a very gentle person."

Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri
Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri

Bob Spangler died in the Federal Corrections Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri, at 3:15am on August 5, 2001, ten months after being taken into custody, and 23 years after killing Nancy and the kids.


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