Man Shoots Brother After Being Taunted With A Gerbil, Then Goes On Killing Spree With Girlfriend

After a child played a prank on him, Mark and Dustin Spotz got into a violent argument that sent Mark on the run with his 17-year-old girlfriend.

Preview
A Common Killer is Suspected in String of Pennsylvania Murders
oxygen Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View

A Common Killer is Suspected in String of Pennsylvania Murders

A horrific killing spree leads Pennsylvania investigators on the hunt for two young lovers willing to do whatever it takes to evade the law.

Mark Spotz and Christina Noland were young and infatuated with each other. Spotz even brought Noland to meet his family -- but what followed was a bizarre sibling feud that ignited a shocking series of murders.

On February 1, 1995, a woman was walking across a bridge in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania when she looked down and realized a woman was laying at the bottom. She contacted police, who rushed to the scene and discovered June Ohlinger, 52, was dead. She had been shot in the back of the head. They soon learned her purse and car were missing too, making a carjacking or robbery likely.

Ohlinger was a devoted mother who had been happily planning the baby shower for her first grandchild. She worked as a cashier at a local minimart and had been on her way to her job, police believed, when she had been taken and killed.

"Pine Grove is a very small town, not a lot of crime, so June Ohlinger probably never thought anything would happen to her early morning opening up the store," Laura Venet, the documentarian behind "Spree Killer," told "Killer Couples," airing Sundays at 8/7c on Oxygen

As authorities got to work on their investigation, they received a call from the owner of a local carwash who had discovered a purse, clothing, and other personal items that belonged to Ohlinger. The car wash had surveillance video, so police were able to lay eyes on the perpatrator. They watched video of Ohlinger's vehicle arriving at the car wash -- and two people, a man and a woman, coming out and tossing the items.

Christina Noland Kc 1506

Police knew they had to locate the car and the two suspects, but the following day tragedy struck again just 70 miles from where Ohlinger's body had been found. Penny Gunnet, a 41-year-old manager of a tax firm, had been found dead under her car on the side of the road. She had been shot in the head and run over.

"Penny Gunnet was someone who was the last person you would think would be attacked. She was known as a loving mother, a great wife. Everyone was stumped. No one knew how or why she could've ended up in this situation," Venet said.

There were disturbing similarities to the murder of Ohlinger: Gunnet's purse was also missing, and the same kind of bullets were found at the scene. Her husband told police the last time he saw her that morning, she had been heading off to work.

"The police have so many similarities in these horrible crimes and they're trying to determine what the motivation could be and they surmise the killer is really desperate to have a car and money and those are the driving factors that fuel this case across the state,"  Janis Wilson, a former reporter with The Patriot-News told producers.

Authorities got another break when Ohlinger's car was found abanonded on the side of the road. They dusted the vehicle for fingerprints and found three sets: one belonging to Ohlinger, one belonging to an unknown person, and one belonging to Mark Spotz, a 23-year-old with a lengthy criminal history who was currently wanted for the murder of his brother, Dustin Spotz.

They tracked down Dustin Spotz's fiancé, who told them the whole story. On the evening of January 31, they had all been together at the Spotz boys' mother's home, and Spotz had brought Noland over to meet them. At one point, Spotz got tired and went to take a nap, so Dustin's fiancé's young son decided to play a prank on him and dangle a gerbil in his face, which infuriated Spotz. Spotz began cursing the boy out, Dustin got involved to defend him, and the fight soon turned violent, with Dustin stabbing Spotz with a kitchen knife. Spotz then went, got a gun, and shot his brother to death. He and Noland then fled the scene.

The fiancé also told them that both brothers had a very troubled upbringing, enduring a lot of abuse and bouncing around between homes. While Mark Spotz turned to crime, including incidents of arson, he was still known to be very charismatic and had a way with women.

Noland, however, had no criminal history, a stable upbringing, and had generally been regarded as a good kid.

"The heart wants what the heart wants and Christina wanted Mark," Wilson surmised.

Noland, would soon turn on Spotz, though. She contacted police and confirmed Spotz had killed and abducted both Gunnet and Ohlinger.

"She told the police Mark had lost his temper because a teenage boy had been teasing him with a gerbil and he had gotten into a fight with his brother, and his brother had gotten killed," Wilson told producers.

Afterward, they fled. They carjacked Ohlinger to find a new vehicle and robbed her for money, and Spotz shot her to death and kicked her body off the overpass. Time passed and they realized they had kept her car for too long, which is why Spotz then carjacked and killed Gunnet. Noland tried to follow him in Ohlinger's car, but soon lost track of him as he was a better driver. It was then she turned herself in to police and cooperated with the investigation.

"We asked her over and over again, 'Why she did you stay with him?' She gave answers to say she was afraid, she was afraid of Mark, she was afraid of what he would do in general if she would turn against him," Detective John Sancenito, formerly of the North MIddletown Township police, told producers.

Then, yet another body was found. Tree trimmers uncovered the body of 71-year-old Betty Amstudz in the woods in nearby Cumberland County. Like the other victims, she had been shot to death and with the same type of gun. Her purse and car were missing. In an even more chilling turn of events, when they went to Amstudz's home, they found the door ajar and groceries partially put it away. It was clear she had been taken by force from her own house.

By tracing her credit cards, they were able to track Spotz to a nearby motel. A brief standoff ensued, but Spotz eventually turned himself in. He had committed four murders in four days in four different counties. He was tried for first-degree murder in three counties and voluntary manslaughter in another for the death of his brother.

Noland took a deal and pled guilty to criminal homicide. She was sentenced to 12 to 20 years in prison for Ohlinger's death and six to 30 years in prison for Gunnet's death. In exhcange, she agreed to testify against Spotz.

In March 1996, Spotz's trials began. He acted as his own lawyer and tried to pin all the murders on Noland. The strategy didn't work. Spotz was found guilty in all four cases and handed down three death sentences. He is currently on death row.

Noland, meanwhile, was released in 2008 after spending 13 years in prison.

For more on this case and others like it, watch "Killer Couples," airing Sundays at 8/7c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.

Related
Related Show

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 Oxygen Insider for all the best true crime content. 

You May Also Like...
Recommended by Zergnet