Hours after Patricia Dresser was found strangled to death at her Greenfield, Indiana, home, police were furiously attempting to track down her son’s friend, 20-year-old Spencer Spielman.
Police learned that Dresser had hired Spielman as a handyman, and on the day prior to the murder, she told friends and family that she suspected him of breaking into her house.
Dresser previously caught Spielman attempting to steal her son, Nick’s, watch, and she later hid the valuable Tag Heuer to keep it out of Spielman’s hands. On Oct. 12, 2012, however, she came home and found the place disheveled, with the watch box in the kitchen.
“Spencer broke into my house today..... didn’t get what he was looking for though!” Dresser texted a friend, according to “Criminal Confessions,” airing Saturdays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
Believing Spielman had entered her house using the garage door code, Dresser unplugged the door opener, but she decided not to report the incident to police.
The following evening, friends found Dresser deceased on her couch wearing a red bath robe. She was surrounded by pillows, and the robe’s sash was lying on the ground next to her.
“The rope sash was the weapon used to strangle her, and it had been wrapped around the neck twice,” Greenfield Police Department Lieutenant Randy Ratliff told “Criminal Confessions.”
Her car, a blue Ford Taurus, was missing from the home along with her television, iPad, Wi-Fi hotspot, iPhone and wallet, according to court documents.
On the evening of Oct. 14, Dresser’s car was spotted near a local Village Pantry by Dresser’s ex-boyfriend and close friend, Duane Davis, who co-owned the vehicle with her.
Davis called 911 and tailed the car until police were able to make the traffic stop. Spielman was behind the wheel, and a man, Brandon Humphries, was in the passenger seat.
Humphries told investigators Spielman claimed the Taurus was his mother’s car, and that he had noticed several other items inside the vehicle, including a Shell gas card, an iPhone, an iPad and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
“I’m gonna just tell you this now just in case it pops up in the future, I did buy a TV off him. He said it … came from his mom’s house,” Humphries said, adding that he later pawned the 55-inch Hitachi.
When police tracked down the television, its serial number was found to be a match to the one stolen from Dresser’s home.
Speaking with police, Spielman told multiple lies before claiming he stole the television while Dresser was out, and that he entered the home by using a garage door remote.
While he initially denied having anything to do with the murder, Spielman later admitted that the two got into an argument, and she told him to leave the house. He claimed Dresser then fell and knocked over a chair, and that he helped her up and walked her to the couch.
Spielman said she was wearing a robe, and realizing the sash had come off, he placed it on the floor next to her. He also described the location of the couch pillows, which was information that only someone who had seen the body — and potentially the killer — would know.
After hours of questioning, Spielman finally broke.
“When I let her down on the couch, like a few minutes later, she just came up freaking the f**k out, hitting me and trying to scratch me and s**t. And I just,” Spencer said, gesturing that he cinched the sash around her neck.
“[I] tightened, left. And I came back, and … when I took it off, it was too late,” he told police.
Spielman also admitted he wound the sash twice around her throat before strangling Dresser to death.
He was charged with murder, robbery and driving while suspended. He was ultimately found guilty on all counts and sentenced to 55 years in prison, according to local Fox affiliate WXIN.
To hear more about the case, watch “Criminal Confessions” on Oxygen.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.