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Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Police hunt for Springer guests
The Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer: The murder victim appeared on his show accused of stalking
Police in the US are searching for a couple after they appeared on the Jerry Springer show to accuse a woman of stalking them, and she was later found murdered.

Ralf Panitz, 40, and his wife Eleanor Panitz, 42, went on Springer's controversial talk show in May complaining about the behaviour of Panitz's former wife Nancy Campbell-Panitz.

The programme, entitled Secret Mistresses Confronted, was only broadcast on Monday.

This is a terrible tragedy

Springer spokeswoman

Hours after it went out, Campbell-Panitz was found dead in a house all three were fighting over.

Police in Sarasota County Sheriff's office, Florida, would not say how the 52-year-old woman died.

But they confirmed that they were treating her death as murder, that the Panitz couple were under suspicion and were being sought.

During their appearance on The Jerry Springer Show, the couple confronted Campbell-Panitz, saying that her stalking had become unbearable and they had to hide.

Panitz' former wife was - at the start of the show - unaware that he had remarried. It was revealed to her using the show's typical element of surprise.

A spokeswoman for The Jerry Springer show commented on news of Campbell-Panitz's death, saying: "This is a terrible tragedy."

The show is co-operating with the police investigation.

Confession controversy

Police went to the house where Campbell-Panitz's body was found in response to a call that two women were arguing at home near Sarasota.

It remains unclear who was living in the house.

The scene outside the house
Police are investigating the murder

Campbell-Panitz is known to have had a court order giving her access to the property.

However, a spokesman for the sheriff's office added that Eleanor Panitz also had a court order saying she belonged there.

The billing for the show on the prgramme's website reads: "Eleanor says her husband's ex-wife, Nan, won't take 'no' for an answer.

"Nan has stalked them so severely that they had to go into hiding. Today, Nan will learn that her ex-husband is actually married to Eleanor!"

Campbell-Pantiz's murder will fan the flames of disquiet over the violent confrontations that have become part and parcel of The Jerry Springer Show.

Allegations have been made that many of the fights that take place on the show are staged, leading to further debate over the glorification of violence for entertainment.

But the controversy extends beyond The Jerry Springer Show into a wider discussion over the ethics and value of so-called "confessional" talk shows.

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

The BBC's John McIntyre
"The Springer Show said it was a terrible tragedy"
See also:

10 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Springer's shows 'too violent'
13 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Springer's date at the Dome
25 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Springer show slammed ... again
17 May 99 | Entertainment
Watchdog backs Springer
15 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Vanessa staff suspended over 'fake guests'
17 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Vanessa researcher wins libel case
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