Hunting SeasonIn so many crime stories of the real and unreal, hunters are often the first to find the body.� They are the ones the rural police call to help with searches for lost hikers and missing people.� Sometimes their dogs are the first to find the lost person.� The hunters stalk through the woods with eyes open, looking for tracks and minute signs of not just their quarry but for any disturbance of the woods.� Rarely do they come across the horrifying. Mostly they have a peaceful day in the fields and forests.� Usually in order to access the woodlands, they are forced to park their trucks along the ditches of wooded back roads.
Two hunters found the body of a 12-year-old girl in a ditch along a country road. It was September 10, 1994, near the small village of Kempster, an area known as the "Gateway to Wisconsin's Northwoods." There were no clothes on her body and her hands were bound behind her back with ripped shreds of a pink t-shirt.� She had been beaten, raped, strangled and stabbed in the abdominal area and chest.� She had been there for five days. The hunter-killer left one clue, a small speck of evidence that would later be used against him.� It was a carpet fiber found on the girl's body.�
The Sexual Deviate
The scores of blacked out entries on Spanbauer's juvenile record indicate he had some tangles with the law in his teenage years.� He dropped out of Oshkosh High School just after his seventeenth birthday and joined the Navy.� He was a basket case in the military.� He received three courts martial for being absent without leave and spent seven months in the brig.� His mother received a letter from naval doctors stating they thought David needed psychiatric care, but no further mention was made of the issue. He received a dishonorable discharge and returned to Wisconsin in November of 1959.�
A week later in Appleton, a mother slept in another room while her 13-year-old daughter studied.� A masked man entered the house and stole some cash.� He flashed a pistol at the girl and hauled her out behind the garage.�
"I'm going to rape you," he said.
"What does that mean?" asked the girl.�
The 19-year-old Spanbauer answered by smacking her twice.� The girl screamed and attracted the attention of a person passing by.� He ran off and drove to Green Bay.
That evening on January 12, 1960, Carol Grady, a 16-year-old girl was babysitting her cousins. As she played the piano, Spanbauer lurked outside the house watching her through the window.� Armed with his pistol, he entered the house and pocketed a small amount of cash, and brought the teenager to the bedroom.� Spanbauer lashed her down spread-eagle on the bed and slashed apart her clothes with a knife and raped her.�
Her uncle returned and Spanbauer shot him in the face and escaped from the house.� Since his first burglary when he procured the handgun, Spanbauer drifted around the southeastern Wisconsin area for almost a month and a half.� There is a record of an attempted robbery near Milwaukee, and finally he was picked up for carrying a concealed firearm in Sheboygan County on February 16th.
Spanbauer broke down in police custody and told his stories and everything came out.� In court, the judge labeled him as a "sexual deviate" and sentenced him to seventy years in prison:� David Spanbauer, age 19, Wisconsin convict, sexual deviate.
Life's a BeachDuring his prison time, Spanbauer's mother, Evelyn, hammered authorities with letters encouraging her son's release at his parole hearings.� She wrote to Gov. Warren Knowles and claimed her son was not a pervert, and Spanbauer's conviction was a result of the rape victim being a licentious woman, and of Spanbauer being poor.
He was finally released in May of 1972 and it seemed like his was making positive steps in his life.� He enrolled at Madison Area Technical College and maintained a B average while living at the YMCA at the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison.� But he quickly became entangled in the local crime scene.� He let an escaped prisoner borrow his car and the fugitive was arrested after a robbery in nearby Middleton.� Spanbauer was dangerously close to going back to prison.
In 1913, the Wisconsin government created the first prisoner work release program for those in county jails.� Inmates are allowed go to work in the morning, but must return to jail to stay overnight.� Known as the "Huber Law," it is has long been a part of Wisconsin's legal lingo:
"I heard Crazy Joe is in jail for beating up a drunk farmer at the Hilltop Tavern."
"Yeah, but he scored a job as a janitor at Lambeau Field and is out on Huber."
For being involved in the robbery case, Spanbauer did some time in the Dane County Jail but was able to get out with Huber Law privileges working for the Madison Parks Department.�
Madison is often called by its nickname "Mad Town," and it's been referred to as "The City of Four Lakes." Two of the lakes, Lake Mendota and Lake Monona characterize the city by forming a narrow isthmus that blends the downtown, university, and capitol districts.� The lakes lend the city much beauty and dotting the shoreline are parks with beaches.� As soon as the warm spring weather starts blending into hints of a hot summer, the beaches are loaded with coeds from the university.
Spanbauer worked the parks and the city beaches in the hot summer sun of 1972.� He eyeballed the bikini-clad women lying in the sun.� He just spent 13 years in prison.� The half-naked women at the beach drove him mad with sexual urges.� Later he told psychiatrists he did what he did out of sexual frustration, and he simply couldn't wait any longer.� He said to a social worked that he was "asocial," and must have been "born retarded."
Top Ten List
Spanbauer was found guilty for abduction and rape and Assistant District Attorney John Burr asked for the maximum sentence of 50 years on top of what Spanbauer would receive for violating his parole.
With all of the facts of the case before him, Judge Richard Bardwell reasoned that the rape was much more "mild" than Spanbauer's previous rapethe one where he tied the victim down spread eagle, raped her at knife point and then blasted another man in the face with a handgun.� Therefore, the judge figured, Spanbauer has moved from being a "very dangerous sex offender" to now merely "just dangerous ... so there has been some improvement.'' He noted that Spanbauer was still a sociopath but his tendencies weren't so severe.� Bardwell gave Spanbauer 12 years in prison than ran concurrent with his revoked parole. ''The girl was in effect asking for it," said Bardwell, "They are tempting fate when they do it."
Assistant District Attorney Burr thought Spanbauer was a threat to society and was enraged by the light sentence.� Burr later said that Spanbauer was, "in the top ten of the most vicious and violent people I've ever had the displeasure of coming in contact with.''
Prison BrideSpanbauer manipulated the system before he was sentenced.� He asked Judge Bardwell to be sent to a place where he would receive treatment.� It was a shifting attitude of Spanbauer.� It was about Me, the victimthe one that needs help in a world where everyone was seemingly against him.
He picked up on the letter writing campaign from his mother. His strategy was to claim his innocence.� He wrote to Judge Bardwell claiming he was not guilty and that he was incapable of committing rape.� His reasoning was that since he was intimate with fear and pain as a violent rapist, he would therefore be unwilling to inflict those emotional states on others.� Bardwell's sentence was too harsh, he wrote, and some letters claimed he was innocent; others were attacks on the prison system written from his victimized frame of mind.�
He complained to state government officials that he was entitled to more education and social benefits.� He even complained that his prison wages weren't making enough money in interest.� It played into his idea that he was a victim but writing letters also passed the time.� Mostly he held down various jobs in prison and took some technical classes, and he waited for Carol to come by for a visit.
Carol Patterson was a 30-year-old divorced mother of four and welfare recipient.� She heard of Spanbauer from a friend who had a husband in the same prison. She first met him in October 1975 and became a regular visitor, to the point where she moved to Beaver Dam so she could be closer to make her daily visit at Waupun State Prison.� She unequivocally believed that Spanbauer was innocent of the rape charges that put him behind bars and no one, not even her social worker, could change her mind.
This did not faze the Parole Board.� They knew it was a sham and in 1978, the couple filed for divorce.� The marriage only lasted two years.� The women in his life were leaving him.� While in prison, his younger sister died and his mother passed away.
In prison Spanbauer was treated for his sexual perversions and mental problems.� He spent some time in group therapy and mostly it seems that this was a ploy to receive a get-out-of jail-early card.� In 1986 when he was denied parole again, he swore he was done dealing with shrinks and their evaluations and therapies.� He even thought that the psychologists were getting more out of the therapy sessions than him.
Mr. Nice GuyHe continued to pine for an early parole and continued to mention his former wife as part of his plan of making a new positive life once he got out.� Spanbauer planned on moving in with her, but nothing he could scheme could change the adamant decision of the Parole Board.� They continually refused parole until they no longer could, until the mandatory release date on Jan. 29, 1991.� Spanbauer finished doing time.
He left prison with $8,000 in savings from his prison work and moved in with his sister, Judy who was married to Clark Tadych, an Oshkosh police officer.� It was a temporary stay and once he got settled in with a job at the local Seven-Up bottling plant he moved into an apartment of his own on the west side of Oshkosh.
He was out on parole and had to file reports of his on-goings and whereabouts.� In his descriptions of what he was up to, he would write a dull platitude and tag at the end of the sentence:� "Smile!" as if it were an early handwritten version of the smiley face icon used in today's Internet chat rooms and message boards.� Everything was fine, he wrote, and it seemed like he was readjusting to life on the outside.
On Christmas Eve of 1991, Spanbauer had a heart attack and for a moment, there was no heartbeat, but the doctors brought him back to life.� His poor heart condition would haunt him for the remainder of his life.
He worked early mornings and finished up mid-afternoon at the bottling plant and would head to a couple nearby taverns to knock back a few cold ones.� He never got blatantly drunk; he was a slow and steady drinker that minded his own business and one tavern owner tagged him to be a "nice guy."
Winneconne was the home of 20-year-old Laura Depies.� She worked at the Fox River Mall in Grand Chute and when she finished her shift on August 19, 1992, she went over to visit her friends in Menasha and she never showed up.� Her friends found her locked car in their apartment parking lot.� David Spanbauer just started his summer vacation the day before.� She is still missing to this day.�
The Last BicycleSpanbauer was on a roll in the summer and autumn of 1994.� It was the longest stint of freedom he ever tasted since he was 19 years old.� It was overwhelming.� He exploited it.� For him, robbery, rape and murder were addicting if you did not get caught.
His crime spree continued throughout the Fox Valley region.� He burglarized homes with the intention of there being no confrontation, just a matter of getting the goods, in and out, but if a person were home, he produced a pistol to finish the robbery at gunpoint. On July 9th, less than a week later after he attacked Stariha, Spanbauer broke into a home in Appleton armed with a handgun.� He thought nobody was home, but he found 21-year-old Trudi Jeschke in a bedroom and fired one shot into her chest.� She would have been a witness. She died from the bullet wound.� He later ditched the gun at Menominee Park in Oshkosh.
On Labor Day, September 5th, a 12-year-old girl from nearby Weyauwega rode her bike on Sanders Road near her grandma's house in the township of Dayton.� It wasn't far from the place where Spanbauer ran down Stariha in his car.� He got her into his car and molested her and he drove 75 miles north up into Langlade County near Kempster.� Five or six hours transpired from when he picked her up and when he finally decided to end it. � He strangled and stabbed her and threw her body into a steep ditch.�
Police organized a search for the missing girl using a country church for the headquarters.� Hundreds of volunteers helped canvass the surrounding woods in a ten mile perimeter and the FBI joined the case.� Her body was found body five days later.� Her name was Cora Jones.