Springer show guest is charged over death of ex-wife

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The Independent US

A former guest on the Jerry Springer Show, the popular trash-talk daytime television show, was in custody yesterday and had been charged with murdering his ex-wife hours after they appeared together on a programme broadcast in the United States on Monday.

A former guest on the Jerry Springer Show, the popular trash-talk daytime television show, was in custody yesterday and had been charged with murdering his ex-wife hours after they appeared together on a programme broadcast in the United States on Monday.

Ralf Panitz, a German citizen, had been on the run since the discovery of the battered body of Nancy Campbell-Panitz in her home in the Florida resort of Sarasota. She had divorced him in February last year.

Police said that his new wife, Eleanor Panitz, who had appeared on the same programme, was also being held as a material witness.

Their segment of the programme showed the three trading insults, ending with Ms Campbell-Panitz, 52, stalking off the set. She was accused by her ex-husband of stalking him and his new bride, Eleanor, and refusing to get out of their lives. Eleanor called her "old" and "fat".

Police in Sarasota gave no details about how the couple was captured. However, it is thought that the pair had been travelling north towards Canada, where Ralf Panitz hoped to seek sanctuary in the German embassy.

The murder has put the Jerry Springer Show on the defensive, even though no attempt has yet been made to demonstrate that it had any culpability in the killing. A similar programme, the Jenny Jones Show, suffered a public battering after one of its guests was killed in 1995 after admitting during a segment that he had a gay crush on the other guest, who has since been convicted of murder.

Hours before her death, Nancy Campbell-Panitz secured a restraining order against her former husband from a Sarasota court. She claimed that he had beaten her several times during their 15-month marriage and that he had chased her while carrying a knife on 10 July.

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