Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Spangler: Black Widower

High School Sweethearts

Married to Murder by Robert Scott
Married to Murder by Robert Scott

Robert Spangler and Nancy Stahlman started dating in junior high school in their home town of Ames, Iowa. According to Robert Scott in his book Married to Murder, Bob was a high school football hero, and Nancy was the All-American girl involved in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. They looked like they belonged together. Nancy certainly thought so.

Bob was born in Des Moines, Iowa on January 10, 1933. He was adopted by Merlin and Ione Spangler of Ames, Iowa. Merlin was a professor and researcher at Iowa State University. A brilliant scholar, Merlin wrote a textbook, served in as an officer in both World wars, and helped formulate the Marsten/Spangler theory of soil pressure on underground conduits, which survives today. There is even a geo-technical laboratory on the ISU campus named for him.

Young Robert Spangler in football jersey
Young Robert Spangler in football jersey

Bob, not having the benefit of the genetic makeup of his adopted father, had only good looks and athletic aptitude to lean on. And a gift for acting. He went to college at his father's school, Iowa State, more because it was expected of him than his interest in higher education, but he finished with a degree in technical journalism and Nancy was there, too, a member of the synchronized swimming team and the yearbook staff.

Littleton, Colorado map
Littleton, Colorado map

They were married in 1955, and after a stint in the Army, Bob and Nancy settled down to raise a family and make a good home. Friends said she'd never been happier. Bob went to work for American Waterworks, moved them to Littleton, Colorado, not far from Denver, and in 1961, son David was born, followed in 1963 by daughter Susan. Nancy discovered a passion for gourmet cooking, and the family, to all outward appearances, was a perfect one.

The Spanglers' home in Colorado
The Spanglers' home in Colorado

 

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