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Murder victimís father fights back
Altoona Mirror (Penn.) ^ | 8/9/07 | Phil Ray

Posted on 08/09/2007 6:24:59 PM PDT by kiriath_jearim

The father of 24-year-old Beth Sprankle, who was shot to death in February at a Greenwood day care center by her estranged boyfriend, has started an effort to put more teeth into Blair County’s protection-from-abuse system.

Jeffrey L. Sprankle, a Pennsylvania state constable known as “Spanky,” says a PFA order “has got to be more than a piece of paper.”

He is recommending a 24-hour cooling-off period be instituted locally in emergency cases, which would mean the offending party would spend 24 hours behind bars.

Sprankle says in some cases, individuals believed to be dangerous should have to wear ankle bracelets so law enforcement knows where they are.

He also is calling for training of police officers throughout the county so that PFA procedures are the same no matter which department is called for help.

A PFA is issued by a judge typically when violence erupts between husband and wife or girlfriend and boyfriend.

The order temporarily separates the couple, removing the violent party from the home.

During a subsequent hearing, a judge can extend the order up to 18 months.

More than 400 PFAs are issued in the county each year.

Sprankle’s daughter Beth was separated from her boyfriend, Carlos Ortiz, the father of their two children. She had a PFA against him.

During the morning of Feb. 9, Beth Sprankle drove her children to a local day care center, where Ortiz confronted her with a gun.

He killed her, then fled about 100 yards to the middle of a snow-covered road, where he turned the gun on himself.

That week, Ortiz lost custody of a daughter to a previous relationship in Allentown, and two days before the shooting, he lost a custody battle with Beth Sprankle in a Blair County courtroom.

“I can’t do anything for Beth,” Jeffrey Sprankle said, but he wants to do something to prevent another family from experiencing the heartache he has gone through the past seven months.

Since Beth’s death, five murder-suicides have occurred in this area of Pennsylvania, including counties surrounding Blair. All involved a violation of a PFA, Sprankle said.

He is trying to meet with Assistant District Attorney Deanne Paul, who deals with domestic violence cases, Coroner Patricia Ross and Susan Griep, coordinator for the county’s victim-witness program, to get the ball rolling.

District Attorney Richard Consiglio said he’s not opposed to the meeting.

“I can’t say I wouldn’t like that,” he said. “He seems to want to effect change the legal, rational way. I can’t say anything negative about what he’s doing.”

Consiglio said the present PFA system provides a cooling- off period between the initial court order and the hearing, usually about three days.

The system is difficult for police because many women initially request an order, then want to withdraw it by the time the case comes to court, Consiglio said.

Yet he understands Sprankle’s point of view, saying that three recent death penalty cases he tried — William Wright, Andre Staton and Nathan Shaw — stemmed from domestic violence.

Wright was convicted of killing his pregnant girlfriend’s husband with a shotgun after she ended their affair.

Staton, tried last year, was under a PFA order when he kicked in the back door of his girlfriend’s house and stabbed her repeatedly with a kitchen knife.

Shaw had served two years in prison stemming from his violation of a PFA order yet killed the son of his estranged girlfriend when she rejected him after he was released.

Consiglio said it’s not easy to separate the violent from the average, intense, emotionally taut domestic situation.

Beth Sprankle, 24, and Ortiz, 34, met on the Internet, and their five-year relationship was stormy, Jeffrey Sprankle said.

There were good times, taking the boys to Dorney Park in Allentown and going hunting, a sport that Ortiz really liked.

The relationship deteriorated and the couple separated, but Jeffrey Sprankle never dreamed Ortiz would kill his daughter because he believed that Ortiz loved her.

What the Sprankles feared the most was an attempt by Ortiz to forcibly take the children with him to his native Allentown.

Jeffrey Sprankle normally accompanied his daughter to the day care center, but that weekend, she was planning to move with her boys into a mobile home.

She told her father, “Dad, I’ve got to live my own life, and you can’t be baby-sitting me.”

He did not accompany her to the day care center that morning.

Beth Sprankle was a born-again Christian who loved working with Alzheimer’s patients at Valley Nursing Home, her father said.

“She really had her head on. She was smiling and happy. She was getting things together, putting her life together,” Jeffrey Sprankle said.

Ortiz had lost control, and he didn’t like it.

“Everything had to be his way,” Jeffrey Sprankle said.

He says his daughter’s faith was stronger than his, but in June, Jeffrey Sprankle stood in front of 150 people at First Church of Christ in Juniata Gap attending a Sing Out for Crime Victims, and he said, “I forgive him.”

He extended forgiveness to Ortiz, he said, “for Beth.”

“That’s what she would want,” he said.

Jeffrey Sprankle also is thinking about the future because he and his former wife, Wanda, who lives in Tyrone, are jointly raising their two grandsons.

“Most of all, it’s the boys. I have to keep going every day for the boys,” he said.

“I see Beth in the boys every day,” Jeffrey Sprankle said.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Government; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: banglist; civilrights; crime; dueprocess

1 posted on 08/09/2007 6:25:03 PM PDT by kiriath_jearim
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To: kiriath_jearim
Since Beth’s death, five murder-suicides have occurred in this area of Pennsylvania, including counties surrounding Blair. All involved a violation of a PFA
Maybe somebody should help these gals pick better boyfriends.
2 posted on 08/09/2007 6:32:11 PM PDT by samtheman
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To: samtheman

Ain’t that the truth.


3 posted on 08/09/2007 6:51:41 PM PDT by gcruse (Let's strike Iran while it's hot.)
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To: samtheman
Maybe somebody should help these gals pick better boyfriends.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think that insisting on marriage before sexual relations is a good idea. If nothing else, it shows that the man is serious about commitment. Instead, Beth Sprankle had two children with her "boyfriend":

Sprankle’s daughter Beth was separated from her boyfriend, Carlos Ortiz, the father of their two children. . . .
It seems that Ortiz was quite active:
That week, Ortiz lost custody of a daughter to a previous relationship in Allentown, and two days before the shooting, he lost a custody battle with Beth Sprankle in a Blair County courtroom.

I wonder whether he ever married the mothers of his children.

4 posted on 08/09/2007 7:34:36 PM PDT by Logophile
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To: Logophile
I wonder whether he ever married the mothers of his children.

Probably not. I know of, and my wife knows, a guy who has 5 kids, before the age of 30 no less, by three different females, and only married the mother of the last one. Not that it does her much good, he's in and out of jail, mostly in, too much.

5 posted on 08/09/2007 7:46:58 PM PDT by El Gato ("The Second Amendment is the RESET button of the United States Constitution." -- Doug McKay)
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To: samtheman

As someone who represents victims of domestic abuse all the time, I can assure you no one ever shows up on dates and says, “Hi! I’m going to be an abusive and manipulative partner. I will slowly destroy your self-esteem, cut your ties with the outside world, and control you financially. Leaving me will be incredibly difficult.”

Rather, they are very good at putting on a face until after they are married. Then, it is like flicking a switch.

And Heaven help you if you try to leave. The courts do not understand abuser’s manipulations.


6 posted on 08/09/2007 7:49:05 PM PDT by pleasedontzotme
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To: samtheman
Maybe somebody should help these gals pick better boyfriends.

And give the gals shooting lessons, and maybe sell them handguns at wholesale.

7 posted on 08/09/2007 7:50:35 PM PDT by El Gato ("The Second Amendment is the RESET button of the United States Constitution." -- Doug McKay)
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To: samtheman

Some gals go for someone with problems so they can fix them.


8 posted on 08/09/2007 7:57:39 PM PDT by presently no screen name
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To: samtheman

Wonder how this compares with past years? It may be that the method of dating is flawed, because neither party has marriage in mind. The relationship has no structure. no long term goals.


9 posted on 08/09/2007 7:57:49 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: samtheman

However crappy somebody’s taste in the opposite sex is, nobody deserves to die this way. Bully to this father for trying to make law enforcement protect innocent people better.


10 posted on 08/09/2007 9:02:04 PM PDT by ciocia
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To: ciocia

Sadly, a 24-hour cooling off period won’t do much. If you marry a guy predisposed to this kind of violence, a 24-month cooling off period will only delay the day he comes gunning for you.


11 posted on 08/09/2007 10:04:56 PM PDT by samtheman
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To: ciocia

“Bully to this father for trying to make law enforcement protect innocent people better.”

I agree with you and you are correct. No one deserves this death. However, the part about putting someone in jail for 24 hours during the cooling off period, I can see how that could be abused. Guy and Gal have fight, gal calls police and then they have the guy put in jail. I don’t think that would be right, but I could see that happening.

Again, I feel badly for all involved. I was just asking someone recently, why is it that so many nice people seem to be attracted to rotten people. Not to be sexist, but it seems that so many nice women are attracted to some real scumbags.


12 posted on 08/10/2007 4:26:10 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: kiriath_jearim
Sorry liberal dunderhead of a father. I'd buy my big girl a gun and get her to take an NRA training course. No judge can protect a woman against an estranged ex. Only a .45 will. Guns save lives!

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

13 posted on 08/10/2007 4:29:25 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: kiriath_jearim

“He is recommending a 24-hour cooling-off period be instituted locally in emergency cases, which would mean the offending party would spend 24 hours behind bars.”

Yeah, that will work. It will make the person even more hot.

“Sprankle says in some cases, individuals believed to be dangerous should have to wear ankle bracelets so law enforcement knows where they are.”

Lot of good that will do if they have no clue where the person that request the RO is, as in this case. How about both parties wear them, then LEOs can see that bracelets are near each other. Won’t happen though, that would make sense, would violate the victims rights, etc.


14 posted on 08/10/2007 9:12:22 AM PDT by looscnnn (DU is VD for the brain.)
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