We’ve already talked about the Jenny Jones murder, but we can recap real quick. In 1995 a guest named Jonathan Schmitz was taken to the show by an acquaintance named Scott Amedure; Scott was an openly gay man, and he had a crush on the strictly hetero Jonathan. Jonathan felt humiliated, and soon after the show, he drove to Scott’s house and blew the man away. There’s more to it, of course, and there’s a whole article on that in case you missed it. This particular case caught a ton of press, but it was not the only talk show murder; today I’d like to discuss the one involving the Jerry Springer love triangle. Are you familiar?
So on May 2nd of 2000, the Jerry Springer show filmed an episode called “Secret Mistresses Confronted”. A 40 year old man named Ralf Jurgen-Panitz and his new wife, 45 year old Eleanor (Ellie for short) brought Ralf’s ex wife on the show. 52 year old Nancy Campbell-Panitz was accused of watching the new couple, showing up at various places, basically stalking them and Ellie felt that this behavior was ruining their lives.
Now, if you’ve watched a Jerry episode, you know precisely what the show entails: obnoxious screaming, ludicrous accusations, crowd jeering and cheering, fisticuffs, and devastating secrets uncovered. Juicy stuff! I’ve mentioned before that I was actually a guest on Jenny Jones right before it went off the air. During this time, Jenny shared a building in Chicago with Jerry Springer; I toured his studio, and was offered to be a guest on his show as well – this was common, if you did well on one, they’d fly you back to be on the other if you wanted. I only mention this to give insight into how these shows worked.
While often the problems the guests complain about really were occurring, they were expected to behave a certain way. The producers absolutely did coach the guests on how to act, and how to say things – these shows were not scripted as some tend to think, but close enough! Anywho, during the show both women disclosed upsetting secrets: Ellie bragged that she and Ralf had secretly wed, and Nancy smugly announced that she had been intimate with Ralf that very morning! Eleanor blamed Jerry for her husband’s indiscretion, siting that producers strategically lodged all three of them in the same hotel to start drama – and you betcha that was done on purpose! It’s great for ratings!
So after the taping everyone flew back home to Sarasota, Florida, and tensions continued to mount. Eleanor had a difficult time dealing with her husband’s affair, and she actually broke it off with Ralf; I’ll give you one guess as to where the man went from there.
Nancy is a sad subject, she truly loved Ralf. The pair had gotten to know one another online while Ralf was working as a contractor in his birth country, Germany. Ralf wooed the lonely older woman, he proposed marriage, and Nancy was thrilled when he moved to Michigan to be with her. Soon after they were physically together, the pair packed up and moved down here to the Sunshine State. From there the relationship grew tumultuous; according to Nancy, Ralf was often physically abusive. He beat, kicked, and even chased the woman he claimed to love with a knife. At one point Nancy suffered a concussion due to the abuse. The couple separated often enough but always reconciled – until Ellie eventually entered the picture.
So, after the show when Ellie left the relationship, you can bet that Ralf begged Nancy to take him back. Nancy loved him, and promptly permitted Ralf to move back into her house. It didn’t last long; by July, Ralf had reconciled with Ellie, and somehow both Ellie and Ralf ended up living in Nancy’s home! Ballsy, right?
Well, as you can imagine, Nancy was absolutely livid. She’d been humiliated on national TV, called names such as fat, old, and ugly as the crowd cheered; she’d been physically assaulted, her heart stomped on, played for a fool, and now the man she loved had moved his new wife into the home where she paid the bills! Nancy decided to take Ralf to court, and she asked the judge to evict the couple; she sited the physical abuse which she’d undoubtedly suffered at the hands of Ralf, pleaded for a restraining order, and she even asked for Ralf to be deported back to Germany!
Interestingly enough, all hell broke loose on the very day in which the Jerry Springer episode aired – within hours, actually. On July 24th, Ralf went to a local bar to watch the airing of the episode at 3 pm, and he came home very much inebriated; Ellie had remained at the house, along with Ralf’s adult nephew, Marcus, to pack up their belongings as they were being evicted that very day. When the officer showed up with Nancy to physically remove them from the premises, Ellie and Marcus got in her vehicle and left – but Ralf did not hop in with them. Ellie circled the block again and again, waiting to pick her husband up; she claims that she’d had absolutely no idea that her rival was being murdered at that very moment.
Marcus had realized that Nancy was in danger, and he ran back to the property. The door to Nancy’s home was blocked, so he pleaded with a neighbor to call 911. By the time police arrived, Nancy was dead; the older woman was discovered lying on the kitchen floor, she had been brutally bashed in the head and strangled. Police say it was one of the bloodiest crime scenes they’d encountered, what remained of Nancy was absolutely unrecognizable.
Police had been called to the home so many times in recent months that they knew Ralf must’ve been involved, but they did not know how much of a role Ellie played in Nancy’s demise.
After he was done killing Nancy, Ralf found Eleanor still circling the block. He hopped in the vehicle with her, and the couple drove out of town. They were on the run for a total of 4 days. Once arrested, Ellie claimed that she had no idea that Nancy had been murdered until she received a phone call from a loved one. She’d been under the assumption that they were running from the law because Nancy had been successful in her plea to have Ralf deported!
There was enough hard core evidence to prove the man guilty of second degree murder. Not only was Ralf’s DNA discovered beneath Nancy’s fingernails during postmortem exam, but when he was caught Ralf was still wearing the Sketchers tennis shoes he’d worn at the time of the murder. This was a dead giveaway as there were bloody Sketchers shoe prints all throughout the crime scene. Investigators concluded that Ellie had possessed no knowledge of the murder, but Ralf was sentenced to life without parole.
Nancy’s son does hold the Jerry Springer show responsible for his mother’s death, and in 2002 he filed a lawsuit. For whatever reason, the suit was later dropped. As far as Ellie goes, she is still with Ralf; she lives in a trailer park, barely makes ends meet yet still continues to send Ralf commissary money, accept collect calls, and she drives three hours round trip to visit him in prison each and every weekend. For a while there Ralf was doing his very best to be relocated to his native country. He does not admit any guilt, and complains that prison here in Florida is nothing short of torture; Ralf says that it’s so hot he can’t even sleep at night, but extradition hasn’t panned out. That’s a bit ironic, isn’t it?
*Ellie was on a show about prison wives a while back, it is available on YouTube. I’ll link you: https://youtu.be/zC9U_CTsPn
*The link to the Jenny Jones Murder mentioned earlier: https://morbidnmacabre.com/2020/05/15/the-jenny-jones-murder/