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Man Sentenced To Life in Prison

March 13, 2001 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) _ A man who admitted killing his third wife by pushing her into the Grand Canyon was sentenced Monday to life in prison.

Robert M. Spangler, 69, of Grand Junction, Colo., was sentenced in federal court after agreeing to plead guilty to the first-degree murder of Donna S. Spangler.

As part of the deal, Spangler also admitted shooting his first wife, Nancy Spangler, and their teen-age children, David and Susan, in their Littleton, Colo., home in 1978.

Colorado authorities have said they will not prosecute Spangler for those murders because he is dying of cancer.


Donna Spangler, 58, was killed in 1993 while backpacking with her husband at the Grand Canyon. Spangler told park rangers that his wife had fallen to her death.

According to prosecutors, Spangler was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year. After hearing the news, detectives visited him. They had long suspected Spangler and hoped he would confess before he died.

During that visit, Spangler matter-of-factly admitted killing his family in 1978 and pushing Donna Spangler to her death, prosecutors said.

Spangler made the earlier killings look as though his wife had slain the children and then committed suicide, authorities said. Spangler divorced a second wife before marrying Donna Spangler in 1990.