The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 5, 2012

Pickup truck linked to Columbia County death found in Sunbury

SUNBURY —  Police located a vehicle in Sunbury late Tuesday that belonged to a Columbia County man who was found dead possibly from gunshot wounds hours earlier in his home.

State police at Bloomsburg had put out an all-points bulletin for a 2003 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson edition truck owned by Frank Spencer, 46, whose body was found at his 20 Fairview Drive home in Hemlock Township by a friend who stopped by at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday.

The missing truck was located at North Fifth and Line streets in Sunbury, said state trooper Patrick Finn, of Bloomsburg, the lead criminal investigator.

Finn was preparing a warrant to search the vehicle Wednesday morning. Information about the search was unavailable.

Columbia County Deputy Coroner Linda Kessler said there were wounds on Spencer’s face and arm, but could not confirm they were caused by a gunshot.

An autopsy was scheduled to be performed this morning at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Kessler said.

Spencer had complained repeatedly to Hemlock Township police, state police and anyone else who would listen in recent years about threats being made against his life. Spencer was a 1984 graduate of the Bloomsburg High School, where he was a well-known member of the wrestling team, and a 1988 graduate of the Bloomsburg University. He owned a used car business and junkyard.

Citing the suspicious circumstances of Spencer’s death, Hemlock Township police officer Scott Traugh declined to comment and referred inquiries to the state police.

Finn said he is aware of the complaints as well as a long and contentious divorce Spencer waged with his former wife, Maria Sanutti Spencer, the mother of his two children, ages 13 and 11, which was recently finalized. At one point, Spencer filed a protection-from-abuse order against her.

“It’s no secret they had a bad break-up. (Spencer) made that known to everyone,” Finn said. Finn would not say if there were any suspects in Spencer’s death.

Spencer spelled out his concerns about the alleged threats against him in court documents filed in Columbia County a few years ago.

Accompanied by his then-attorney, Joel Wiest, of Sunbury, Spencer and his girlfriend, Julie Dent, spoke with The Daily Item in November 2010 after both of their homes were burned down within seven months of each other that year.

Dent was asleep in her Old Valley School Road home in Columbia County in August 2010 when a fire woke her. She escaped by jumping out of a second-floor window.

The blaze was ruled an arson by state police, but no charges were ever filed. Dent could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In January 2010, the Millville Road house in Hemlock Township, Columbia County, Spencer shared with his mother burned to the ground. A cause was never determined, but Spencer was convinced the fire was set.

Spencer claimed he received specific threats before each fire and reported them to local and state police, to no avail.

“Where’s the protection?” Wiest asked during the interview nearly two years ago.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Wiest declined to comment due to the continuing investigation involving the death of his former client.

“Our prayers go out to his family,” he said.

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