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Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 02:43 GMT 03:43 UK
Springer murder suspect arrested
Ralf Panitz
Ralf Panitz is taken into custody in Sarasota
Police have arrested a man accused of beating his ex-wife to death shortly after they appeared together on the Jerry Springer Show.

Forty-year old Ralf Panitz, a German citizen, is charged with killing Nancy Campbell-Panitz, 52, on Monday, soon after viewers watched them arguing on TV.

Jerry Springer
The Jerry Springer Show is often controversial
Mr Panitz's second wife, Eleanor Panitz, 40, is being held by police as a material witness.

Mr Springer, the host of the controversial US chat show, said he was co-operating with detectives in the investigation.

The couple, who disappeared after the murder, were earlier believed to have fled north toward the Canadian border.

Mr Panitz made a brief court appearance and was ordered held without bail on a murder charge.

Defence attorney Jayne Weintraub said that the couple decided to surrender after realizing they were suspects.

The body of Campbell-Panitz was found in the house in Sarasota, Florida which she and her ex-husband were fighting over.

The trio filmed the episode of the Jerry Springer Show, entitled Secret Mistresses, back in May.

Mrs Campbell-Panitz thought she had been invited on the programme because her ex-husband wanted a reconciliation.

Instead, he revealed he was remarried and the couple accused her of stalking them.

Public insults

Mr Panitz said he loved his new wife and told his ex to let him get on with his life.

"I care for you and don't wish you any harm, but let me go on with my life," he said.

He said he had been sleeping with his former wife in the days leading up to the show, but said it was because she was overly emotional and making threats.

The show is television ... this is life and death

Jerry Springer
"She is nice sometimes, but she changes to Mrs Jekyll," he said.

At one point Eleanor Panitz leapt up and crossed the stage to her rival.

"Are you going to leave us alone?" she shouted. "I want you to leave us alone."

Mrs Campbell-Panitz left the stage to cheers from the audience when her ex-husband's new wife called her "old" and "fat".

Mr Springer said he thought what had happened was horrible, but denied the show was to blame.

"The show is television - this is life and death. Someone got murdered and I want to respect that and let the police do their work," he said.
Eleanor Panitz
Eleanor Panitz (left) is being held as a material witness

The Jerry Springer Show is not the first programme to be linked with a murder.

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 million judgment against the programme.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"She thought that it was the prelude to reconciliation"
See also:

13 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Springer's date at the Dome
26 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Police hunt for Springer guests
25 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Springer show slammed ... again
17 May 99 | Entertainment
Watchdog backs Springer
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