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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Springer sued over murdered guest
Ralf Panitz
Ralf Panitz was jailed for life for killing his ex-wife
Talk show host Jerry Springer is being sued by the son of a guest who was murdered just hours after her appearance on the show was broadcast.

Nancy Campbell-Panitz, 52, was beaten to death by her ex-husband Ralf Panitz after an episode in which he revealed he had secretly remarried.

Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer denies any responsibility
The Jerry Springer Show, known for its shock revelations and confrontations, created "a mood that led to murder", according to Nancy Campbell-Panitz's son, Jeffrey Campbell, who has filed the lawsuit.

Makers of the programme said they could not be held responsible for the death, and they were "an easy and convenient target".

Ralf Panitz, 42, was convicted of second-degree murder and jailed for life earlier in 2002.

He had taken part in the filming of the show in May 2000 with Nancy Campbell-Panitz, who he divorced in 1999 but still lived with on and off.

Campbell-Panitz thought she had been invited onto the episode titled Secret Mistresses because Panitz wanted to make up with her.

Eleanor Panitz
Eleanor Panitz (left) also appeared on the show
But instead, he introduced her to his new wife Eleanor, and the couple accused Ms Campbell-Panitz of stalking them.

She stormed off the set to the jeers of the crowd and Panitz's new wife.

The episode was not broadcast for another three months, when prosecutors said Ralf Panitz saw it while drinking heavily in a bar.

He brutally beat and killed his ex-wife because he was furious she had won a court order that day to throw him out of the house, they said.

The defence argued she died from a heart attack which happened during a fight with someone, but not her ex-husband.


Many events occurred that were totally unrelated to the show

Spokeswoman
Jerry Springer
Panitz denied killing his ex-wife, testifying that he got drunk on the day of her death and did not remember anything until the next day.

Jeffrey Campbell of Kalamazoo, Michigan, filed the lawsuit in Sarasota County court on Wednesday, 10 July.

It said the show encouraged Ralf Panitz to lie to persuade his ex-wife to appear.

A spokeswoman for the show said: "Many events occurred that were totally unrelated to the show, making it clear that neither the show, Jerry Springer or the producers were responsible in any way for this tragedy, even if we are an easy and convenient target."

This is not the first time a television show has sparked such a controversy.

In 1995 a former guest on The Jenny Jones Show was killed after appearing in an episode about secret crushes.

When guest Jonathan Schmitz found out his secret admirer was a man, Scott Amedure, he shot him dead.

He was convicted of murder and the victim's family won a $25m (16m) judgment against the programme.

See also:

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