Fla. Records Detail Springer Death
Oct. 06, 2000
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ Months before her death, Nancy Campbell-Panitz went on ``The Jerry Springer'' show with her ex-husband and his new wife thinking they would reconcile. The show's producers had other plans.
They wanted the Sarasota trio with a history of domestic violence to fight on camera, according to investigative records released Thursday.
``Actually we didn't even do a good job,'' Eleanor Panitz, murder suspect Ralf Panitz's second wife, told investigators in August, the documents show. ``They wanted yelling and screaming and to lunge at each other.''
Campbell-Panitz, who spent the night before the Springer taping with her ex-husband, walked off the stage in the episode, called ``Secret Mistresses Confronted.''
In the limousine to the airport with other guests later, Eleanor Panitz wished aloud her romantic rival was dead, the guests later reported to authorities.
A waitress at a Sarasota pizza shop also testified that she later heard Ralf Panitz talk about the show and say of his ex-wife: ``I'll choke the life out of her.''
The new details in Campbell-Panitz's July 24 death are contained in 452 pages of records the Sarasota County State Attorneys Office released to defense attorneys.
Campbell-Panitz, 52, was found strangled and beaten to death in her Sarasota home the day the Springer show aired and hours after a judge barred Panitz from her home.
Panitz, 40, pleaded innocent to second-degree murder. Eleanor Panitz, 45, is not charged and was given immunity to answer detectives' questions.
A spokeswoman for ``The Jerry Springer Show'' declined comment Thursday. Panitz's lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.
Jack McGill, Eleanor Panitz's lawyer, would not comment on the records other than to say: ``You get new wives and ex-wives, you probably get some statements like that that are not seriously made.''
Eleanor Panitz told detectives her husband was so upset after being barred from the house that he tried to kill himself by jumping in front of a moving car, but the driver swerved.
She said he had been drinking the day they and Ralf Panitz's nephew, Markus Panitz, watched the Springer show at a bar and was drunk when the three went to Campbell-Panitz's home to collect the couple's belongings.
Campbell-Panitz and sheriff's deputies arrived while they were there, and Ralf Panitz fled through the back of the home while his wife and nephew left in their car. When they returned to get him, Eleanor Panitz said, she found her husband dazed, picked him up and left.
Markus Panitz, finding the door to the house barricaded, called authorities, who found Campbell-Panitz dead.
Eleanor Panitz said she feared her husband, a German citizen, would be arrested for violating the restraining order and they fled the state looking for a German consulate for help.
She said she didn't see any blood on her husband. But the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's crime lab found Campbell-Panitz's blood on his shoe and his DNA under his ex-wife's fingernails, the records said.
In the records, Eleanor Panitz was asked by her lawyer if she thought her husband had killed his ex-wife.
``I can't imagine that he did,'' she responded. ''...No matter everything that's happened, Ralf has always said `I don't hate Nancy, I don't hate that woman.'''