Episode 235:

Mr. Zip

Serial Killer Robert Spangler


The Unsolved Delphi Murders


Episode 235: Mr. Zip

Karen and Georgia cover serial killer Robert Spangler and the unsolved Delphi murders.

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Serial Killer Robert Spangler

Serial Killer Robert Spangler Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Adam Chang on Unsplash

Other Image Sources:

Mr. Zip 1963 (USPS via GisLounge.com)

Robert Spangler (via WCFcourier.com)

Nancy Spangler (via FindAGrave.com)

Sharon Spangler (via Grand Canyon Explorer)

Donna Spangler (via FindAGrave.com)


Story suggested @browndear on Twitter

"Robert Spangler (January 10, 1933 – August 5, 2001) was a serial killer who came into the spotlight following the murders of his first wife, son, daughter, and his third wife.

On the morning of December 30, 1978, in Littleton, Colorado, Robert Spangler lured his wife, Nancy, into the basement with the promise of a "surprise." and shot her in the head with a .38 Special revolver. Going upstairs, he shot his teenage children, Susan and David. David was slow in dying, so Spangler finished him off by smothering him with a pillow. Spangler then altered the scene to make it appear that his wife had shot their children and then herself. On April 11, 1993, when Spangler's third marriage to 58-year-old aerobics instructor Donna Sundling went sour, he took her hiking in the Grand Canyon and pushed her off a 140-foot (40 m) drop to her death.

On the morning of December 30, 1978, deputies from the Arapahoe County, Colorado, Sheriff's Office responded to the scene of a possible double homicide/suicide in a private residence in Littleton, Colorado. A neighbor had discovered the bodies of a 45-year-old woman, her 17-year-old son, and her 15-year-old daughter. All three had suffered gunshot wounds from a .38-caliber handgun. The daughter, found partially clothed in her bed, had a bullet wound in her back. The son, also in bed, had been shot once in his upper chest. The mother's body lay slumped over a typewriter in the basement with a bullet wound high on her forehead. A typewritten suicide note on the typewriter was signed with her initial.

The only surviving family member, Robert Spangler, age 45, told investigators that he was not home during the crime. Spangler admitted marital problems with his wife and that he planned to leave her. Spangler was also having an affair with a co-worker Sharon Cooper. He described leaving his house early that morning and finding sheriff's deputies there when he returned. Spangler's original story changed significantly in a subsequent interview. Two separate, private polygraph examiners found his answers inconclusive to questions about his role in the deaths. The .38-caliber weapon used in all three shootings belonged to Spangler, and evidence of gunshot residue was found on his right palm. On January 3, 1979, the Arapahoe County coroner closed the case as a double homicide/suicide. The sheriff's office was unable to overcome the coroner's findings, and they had exhausted all investigative leads; therefore, they were forced to close the case. Most of the evidence was either returned to Spangler or destroyed.

Seven months later, Spangler married Sharon Cooper and moved into the house where his family was killed. He and Sharon shared a common interest in hiking. She eventually wrote a book of her experiences hiking the Grand Canyon. Subsequently, the couple began to have marital problems. Sharon had told people that after Robert's father died that she began to believe that Robert was out to get her. They divorced in 1988.

In August 1990, Spangler married his third wife, Donna Sundling and moved to Durango, Colorado. Donna was an active aerobics instructor with five grown children and numerous grandchildren from a previous marriage. Donna did not share Robert's love of hiking due to her fear of heights which soon lead to martial problems. In April 1993 they backpacked in Grand Canyon hoping to save their marriage.

On April 11, 1993, Spangler appeared at a ranger station in the Grand Canyon and calmly told the ranger that his wife had fallen to her death. He explained that they had stopped to take a picture on the trail and, when he looked back, his wife was gone. Rangers located Sundling's body approximately 160 feet (49 m) below the trail. The autopsy report concluded that she sustained massive injuries, including abrasions, contusions, lacerations, and multiple fractures of the neck, chest, and lower extremities. Spangler was never directly implicated in this wife's death because it was ruled an accident. He drew national attention with interviews on several television shows. As a grieving husband, Spangler discussed his wife's accidental death and the dangers of hiking in the Grand Canyon. Spangler continued to backpack the Canyon with a variety of partners several times a year.

After the death of his third wife, Spangler reestablished contact with his second wife, Sharon, who moved back into his Colorado home. On October 2, 1994 Robert found Sharon in the house unresponsive next to a bottle of Tylenol. She died of a drug overdose later the same day. This death was not investigated by law enforcement..."

— Source: Robert Spangler Wikipedia

The Unsolved Delphi Murders

The Unsolved Delphi Murders Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Grayce Slobodian on Unsplash

Other Image Sources:

Abigail Williams and Liberty German (via Wikipedia)

Abby Williams crossing the Monon High Bridge taken by Libby German (via The Sun)

Released still from Libby’s video (via Mercery News)

Original and updated composite sketch of suspect (via JConline.com)

Original composite sketch in July 2017 (via JConline.com)


"On February 14, 2017, the bodies of Abigail Williams and Liberty German were discovered near the Monon High Bridge Trail, which is part of the Delphi Historic Trails in Delphi, Indiana, United States, after the young girls had disappeared from the same trail the previous day. The murders have received significant media coverage because a photo and audio recording of an individual believed to be the girls' killer was found on German's smartphone. Despite thousands of tips that have been sent to the police and the circulation of the recordings of the suspect, no arrest in the case has been made.

At 1:35 p.m. on February 13, 2017, 13-year-old Abigail J. "Abby" Williams and 14-year-old Liberty Rose Lynn "Libby" German were dropped off by German's older sister, Kelsi German, at a trail-head on County Road 300 North, west of the Hoosier Heartland Highway. The girls were hiking on the Monon High Bridge over Deer Creek, among woodland in remote Deer Creek Township. At 2:07 p.m., Libby posted a photo of Abby walking the bridge; after this they weren’t heard from again. They were reported missing at 5:30 p.m. after they failed to meet Liberty’s father at 3:15 p.m. The families initially searched for the girls themselves before calling the police. Authorities who quickly searched the area did not initially suspect foul play in the disappearance. However, this changed when the bodies of the girls were found around noon the next day, about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) east of the abandoned Monon High Bridge. The bodies were about 50 feet (15 m) from the north bank of Deer Creek..."

— Source: Murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German Wikipedia