The 12 Days Of Crime

A Christmas Sleigh-er Murdered Sister, Firefighters

In a twisted wishlist to Santa, he wrote: "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down, and do what I like doing best, killing people."

For more on holiday-related crimes and murder, tune in to Homicide for the Holidays on December 3 at 8/7c and read our 12 Days Of Crime series here

It was Christmas Eve morning in 2012 when the Christmas sleigh-er struck. William H. Spengler, 62, is believed to deliberately have set a fire in his home in Rochester, West Webster, New York. The blaze attracted the attention of the local fire brigade, but the fire would turn out to be the least of their worries. 

Firefighters arrived shortly after 5:30am. Across the street, Spengler was obscured and armed with a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle. He began opening fire on the first responders. Two brave firefighters were killed, and two were injured.

In the shootout that followed, the police rolled in an armored truck and evacuated the remaining firefighters and 33 civilian bystanders. Finally, Spengler shot himself in the head and died - but the fire was still raging. It was 11:30am before firefighters were able to resume their war against the blaze. By that time, Spengler’s house - as well as six other houses - had burned to the ground. Two other homes were so badly burned they were uninhabitable.

The horrendous destruction doesn’t end there. Inside Spengler’s house was the charred corpse of his sister, Cheryl, 67. At the scene of the crime, authorities found a chilling three-page letter written by Spengler, outlining his intentions for the day. It was a twisted wishlist to Santa, in which he wrote: "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down, and do what I like doing best, killing people." Spengler had previously done 17 years in prison for bludgeoning his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer in 1980. You seriously cannot make this stuff up.

If this brutal crime fascinates you, watch Oxygen’s Homicide for the Holidays to learn about more massacres under the mistletoe.

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