Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Spangler: Black Widower

The Lonely Widower

Bob Spangler was at his best with a woman by his side to admire his athletic abilities, and on July 14, 1979, just seven months after the death of his entire family, and at the age of 46, he again married, and his new wife moved into the home he had once shared with Nancy and the kids.

Sharon Cooper was a fit hiker and a writer, whose passion was the Grand Canyon. She was sparkly and bubbly (although she suffered from manic depression, and took a cocktail of drugs in an attempt to control that dark side of her personality) and Bob had been enamored of her ever since they met as coworkers at American Water Works. In fact, they had become lovers not long after they met, but they kept their affair under wraps. The fact that Bob had been married for 23 years, and would likely lose half or more of everything should Nancy divorce him, was a great incentive for discretion.

Still, their neighbors all friends of Nancy's were aghast that Bob would replace her and the children as quickly as he did, but he paid no attention to them. He was off on a new adventure; the whole chapter of family life with children had been closed. Bob readily admitted that he had a talent for compartmentalizing things, and that he didn't care to live in the past. His new life consisted of Sharon, hikes in the Grand Canyon, and her three dogs, which were better than children. They didn't talk back, they didn't smoke dope, they respected him and behaved as they ought to. Sharon was a strict disciplinarian with the dogs Sunshine, Shadow, and Mollie, and they were perfectly trained.

Robert Spangler
Robert Spangler

In 1986, two things of importance happened in the Spangler household. The first was that Sharon's book, One Foot in the Grand Canyon was published to good reviews and earned her a reputation as an authentic, realistic hiker and nature writer who laid it on the line with regards to the danger as well as the beauty of many of the Grand Canyon trails. She didn't sugar coat anything.

The other thing that happened in 1986 was that Bob, feeling some financial pressures, went to visit his father, Merlin Spangler, back in Ames, Iowa. The elder Spangler was now 92 years old but in fine health.

A few days after Bob arrived at his father's home, the elder Spangler took a terrible fall. He was dead within two weeks. Bob inherited a tidy sum, and was able to retire.


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