Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Spanbauer, Serial Child Killer and Rapist

The Sexual Deviate

David Frank Spanbauer
David Frank Spanbauer

David Frank Spanbauer was born into a blue-collar German catholic family in January of 1941 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  He was the oldest child of Frank and Evelyn Spanbauer and he had two younger sisters, Judy and Mary.  Frank was tough on his only son and they had a troublesome relationship.  When David was 14 years old, his father passed away from a heart problem.

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. 

Oshkosh High School
Oshkosh High School

After his aborted attempt at navy life, he went back to Oshkosh High School to pick up where he left off, but soon his twisted inclinations propelled him into the first major criminal event of his life.  On January 3, 1960, he broke into a home in Appleton and made away with two diamond rings, a hunting knife, a bottle of booze, some cash and a .22 handgun.  One night later in Neenah, a town ten miles north of Oshkosh, he robbed a home with his new pistol.

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.


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