Webster, N.Y. – At various times during his prison term, William Spengler sat before a parole board and told them why he should be released.
Spengler had been sent to prison in 1981, one year after he fatally bludgeoned his grandmother with a hammer.
He walked into his first parole hearing in 1989 as a model inmate, trusted by the administration at Attica Correctional Facility.
It was at this first hearing Spengler expressed doubts about his ability to control his temper.
When asked if he could kill again, he responded, “That’s the thing that does worry me in terms of if you’re capable of it once, are you capable of it again.”
Two years later, Spengler talked at length about killing his 92-year-old grandmother, Rose Spengler, the mother of his father.
He said he had been caring for her, bore her no ill-will and did not covet her money.
Moments before the attack, he said he had been hammering shut the basement door to prevent her from walking down.
In a fit of rage, he claims, his grandmother charged him and accidentally kneed him in the groin.
Spengler told the board he can’t explain why he then struck her over the head with a hammer.
“If my back had been to the door and I could have backed out, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he said. “It’s out of character more or less … I’m relatively good-natured.”
Spengler said he brought the hammer down on his grandmother three times. According to autopsy results, that number was more like 13.
Though he was denied parole in 1991, one commissioner made this comment at the end of the hearing: “This type of case is the hardest for a Parole Board to decide. We have this super inmate and we also have the horrendous crime.”
In 1993, the parole board acknowledged Spengler’s family had expressed support for his release.
Unlike his statement 4 years prior, Spengler told the board, “I seriously doubt (I could commit such a crime again).”
At his 1995 parole hearing, the commissioners told Spengler the tests conducted in prison showed Spengler to be a “bright guy,” but added this: “There might be another occasion where you lose your temper and you might repeat that behavior. That is what frightens us. That frightens us.”
Spengler was released 3 years later and his parole ended in 2006.
This year, in the early hours of Christmas Eve, Spengler set his house on fire on Lake Rd. then shot four volunteer firefighters as they ran towards the home.
Spengler then killed himself.
In a suicide note, he said he was going to “do what I like doing best, killing people.”
Transcripts of four parole hearings are attached to this story.