The way you frame a picture or a work of art can dramatically change the way people look at it. The same goes for a murder.
“Framed By The Killer,” a new Oxygen series premiering Friday, January 15 at 9/8c on Oxygen, weaves that unsettling yet fascinating fact of life — and death — into intriguing whodunit murder mysteries. The show follows heinous homicides in which evidence was used to incriminate innocent victims by the real killer. Upcoming episodes of the new show, which is executive produced by “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star Ice-T, chronicles how it happened to everyday people thanks to killers with deliberate, diabolical, and deadly powers of manipulation.
While you wait for the debut of “Framed By The Killer,” wrap your head around a trio of ripped-from-the-headlines frame-ups that will change the way you look at brotherly bonds and suicide notes.
Man Pins Children's Killings On His Wife
Fatal frame-up: In 1978, wife and mom Nancy Spangler and her two teenage children, Susan and David, were killed in their home in Littleton, Colorado.
Twisted set-up: A suicide note apparently left by Nancy offered a compelling argument that the carnage was the result of a murder-suicide by a woman who’d killed her kids and then herself, according to a 2002 ABC report. The chilling typewritten letter read, “We always argued about who’d have the kids. I will.” It was signed with a handwritten “N,” and was determined to be Nancy’s handwriting. But while it was, she didn’t know what she was signing when she wrote that N.
The resolution: Robert Spangler wanted out of his life as Nancy’s husband and father to David and Susan in order to be with his girlfriend. His ticket to freedom: three murders. He shot his wife first, then his kids. He got away with it because of the note and because he seemingly had an alibi, as he claimed he had been at work at the time of the slayings, wrote the Denver Post in 2000.
That year, an investigator looked back at the case after Spangler’s third wife died in a fall while hiking at the Grand Canyon. Spangler, who had terminal cancer, confessed to the Grand Canyon murder and the three killings that occurred in 1978. Before shooting his wife, he’d coaxed her into the basement. “Come here. Sit quietly,” he told detectives he said. “Close your eyes.” Then he pulled the trigger, according to the outlet. He had typed the suicide note himself and tricked her into signing it.
Robert Spangler was sentenced to life in prison in 2001.
A Man Betrays His Brother
Fatal frame-up: Floyd Bledsoe spent 15 years behind bars because of false evidence implicating him in the murder of his sister-in-law, Camille Arfmann.
Twisted set-up: On November 8, 1999, Arfmann was found dead with four gunshot wounds. Floyd Bledsoe, her brother-in-law, was convicted in 2000 of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated indecent liberties – even though his brother, Tom, had already confessed to the crime before the discovery of the body, NBC News reported in 2015. Tom recanted his confession and testified against his brother, claiming Floyd did indeed kill Arfmann and convinced him to make the original confession, reported 7news.com.au in 2020.
The resolution: In 2015, attorneys with the Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies at the University of Kansas Law School stepped up, according to NBC News. As a result, a report showing “DNA evidence that semen in Camille’s body most likely came from Tom Bledsoe – not Floyd” was made public, the outlet stated. A week later, Tom Bledsoe died by suicide, leaving behind a note saying he murdered Armann, not his brother. At age 39, Floyd Bledsoe was set free.
A Serial Killer Tries To Cover His Tracks
Fatal frame-up: In 2014, Daniel Whitworth, 21, was found dead in a London churchyard with an apparent suicide note linking him to the death of Gabriel Kovari, 22, BBC News reported in 2016.
Twisted set-up: The note apparently made it seem as if Whitworth had intentionally died of an overdose because he felt guilty about Kovari’s death — but Kovari’s roommate, Stephen Port, actually planted the phony suicide letter on Whitworth in what was called “a wicked attempt” to frame Whitworth, according to the outlet. Port, an east London chef in his 40s, was charged with the drug-overdose murders of Whitworth and Kovari, as well as Anthony Walgate, 23, and Jack Taylor, 25.
During the trial it came out that Port searched for victims on the internet and drugged them to rape them while they were unconscious, according to the outlet.
The resolution: In 2016, Port was convicted in the murders of Walgate, Kovari, Whitworth, and Taylor, the Guardian reported at the time. Port is serving a life sentence.
For more on criminals who tried to implicate innocent people, watch “Framed By The Killer,” premiering Friday, January 15 at 9/8c on Oxygen.
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