The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


July 4, 2014

2 years later, murdered man’s pleas for aid echo

SUNBURY — Of the many strange statements that surface during divorce proceedings, few match Frank Spencer’s. Spencer said he feared he would be killed by two bullets and he was.

Spencer, 46, was shot to death at his 20 Fairview Drive, Hemlock Township home in Columbia County on July 3, 2012, once in the head and once in the chest.

The theory, expressed in court documents, is that Spencer was shot on the front porch of his home and dragged inside the front door where he was found.

The day after the killing, Spencer’s black and silver 2003 Ford F-150 pickup was located parked on a street in Sunbury. Paperwork from his recently finalized divorce were found inside the vehicle.

“This is an active investigation,” said lead investigator Shawn Williams of the Pennsylvania State Police, who is stationed at the Bloomsburg barracks. “This is not a cold case by any means.”

Spencer had ties to Northumberland and Snyder counties. His former in-laws live there and his one-time divorce attorney, Joel Wiest, has a law practice in Sunbury.

The slain auto shop owner was vocal about his fears that he would be killed, even predicting how he would die, Wiest said.

“Frank claimed to me on numerous occasions that he would be killed if he went through with the divorce. He said it would be two bullets in his head and that he would never make it out of the divorce alive,” Wiest said.

In November 2010, Spencer spoke candidly to The Daily Item about his fears in the months after his mother’s home burned to the ground followed by his girlfriend Julie Dent’s house being deliberately set on fire as she slept inside.

The origin of the fire at Madeline Spencer’s house was not determined and no arrests have been made in connection with the second blaze.

Wiest said he prompted Spencer to tell his story to the newspaper after he had tried to get law enforcement to investigate his claims that the fires were deliberately set by someone who warned him they would do it.

“We went to the township police, the state police, the state attorney general’s office and the FBI,” the attorney said, adding that nothing ever came of the meetings. “Frank even offered to wear a wire.”

Contacted in 2010 about Spencer’s claims, then-Montour County District Attorney Robert Buehner said threats aren’t enough to levy charges since a defendant could argue they were uttered in the heat of passion. He added that arson investigations are often complicated and time-consuming due to the technical and scientific testing required.

Wiest said he never doubted Spencer, who spelled out his claims in court papers filed in Montour County more than a year before his death.

“Frank was inherently a tough, happy-go-lucky guy, but he was also afraid,” Wiest said, adding that the father of two was also “stubborn.”

Months after the slaying, dozens of state troopers searched a wooded area off Route 11 between Danville and Sunbury with metal detectors looking for what authorities said was “a key piece of evidence.”

Police have not said whether anything was found and declined to discuss details developed during their investigation, which they say continues to this day.

Attempts to obtain comment and updates from members of Spencer’s family, including his former wife and his mother, were unsuccessful.

Text Only
  • $23 million sweep under way

    After years of finger-pointing and blame, Northumberland County officials have launched an initiative to try to collect $22.8 million in unpaid fines and restitution from what might be 14,000 cases.

    July 24, 2014

  • eyebrows.jpg Coming Sunday: Browsing for brows

    As makeup sales soar, four tips to make your eyebrows raise others'. Coming Sunday

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mazzeo a finalist for Middletown post

    Former Sunbury police chief Steve Mazzeo is one of three finalists for the same position in a borough about 65 miles away.

    July 24, 2014

  • rundown25zope.jpg Blighted block going bye-bye in Atlas

    Nearly an entire township block in Atlas will be torn down in Mount Carmel Township, utilizing funds from Northumberland County and its Housing Authority in an effort to fight blight. Half of this block is proposed to be developed as low-income senior living units.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1WEATHER.jpg Deadly storm strikes Virginia campground

    A fierce storm packing powerful winds and rain toppled trees and flipped campers Thursday at a Virginia campground this morning, killing at least two people and sending at least 20 more to hospitals, officials said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Official: Air Algerie flight ’probably crashed’

    An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria’s capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali and “probably crashed,” according to the plane’s owner and government officials in France and Burkina Faso.

    July 24, 2014

  • 1gaza25.jpg Israeli fire hits UN facility in Gaza, killing 15

    Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1execution.jpg How Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, executions went awry

    Since the start of the year, executions in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona have gone awry, with inmates gasping for breath as lethal drugs coursed through their bodies.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today's Editorial: One more job appears at risk

    July 24, 2014

  • Rabbi Conflict in Israel grounds Sunbury rabbi

    TEL AVIV, Israel — While the Israelis and Hamas traded rocket and missile strikes for a 16th day, Rabbi Nina Mandel is struggling to find her way back to Sunbury after the FAA on Wednesday announced that it would extend its ban on travel at Ben-Gurion International Airport for another 24 hours.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.