Woman battered to death after row on talk show


A Florida woman, Ms Nancy Campbell-Panitz (52), was beaten to death the same day that she appeared on the Jerry Springer Show and was humiliated by her former husband and his new wife. Police have issued a first degree murder warrant for the former husband, Mr Ralf Panitz (40), and have said they also want to interview his new wife, Ms Eleanor Panitz (45), who used to share a house in Sarasota, Florida with Ms Campbell-Panitz. Mr Chuck Lesaltato of the local sheriff's department said that there was now a state-wide hunt for Mr Panitz and his wife.

The body of Ms Campbell-Panitz was found in the home last Monday, hours after the showing of an episode of the Jerry Springer Show called "Secret Mistresses Confronted".

In the episode, which was taped last May, the couple announced to Ms Campbell-Panitz that they were married and accused her of stalking them.

The new wife told her that Mr Panitz no longer wanted her and that she was "old and fat".

In spite of this, Ms Campbell-Panitz continued to live at times with her former husband and his new wife after the taping of the show while they disputed legal rights to the property.

Police were called frequently to the house as a result of arguments.

Mr Lesaltato said that Ms Campbell-Panitz had a court order giving her access to the house but Eleanor Panitz had another saying she belonged there. On the day the show was broadcast, Ms Campbell-Panitz, accompanied by police officers, appeared at the house with an injunction from a Sarasota County judge awarding her the house. At the hearing she accused Mr Panitz of assaulting her while he said she had a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality.

The police ordered Ralf and Eleanor Panitz to leave and they agreed, according to Mr Lesaltato.

Later in the evening the police were summoned to the house after a neighbour said she could hear loud arguments and found the body of Ms Campbell-Panitz, who had been beaten about the head. Mr Panitz, who is German, apparently met Ms Campbell-Panitz through the Internet and later moved to the US where he married her.

While there is no proof that the appearance on the Jerry Springer Show of the three persons concerned has any connection with her death, commentators are recalling an episode in 1995 when a guest on the Jenny Jones Show called Scott Amedure was later shot dead by a fellow-guest, Jonathan Schmitz.

The latter, who was convicted of second degree murder, said at his trial that he had been humiliated on the show when Mr Amedure, who was gay, confessed to having a crush on him.

In a civil action, the Amedure family was awarded $25 million in damages against the producers and Warner Brothers for partial negligence in bringing the two men together on the show.