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I-Team 10 Investigation: Who is William Spengler?

Posted at: 12/25/2012 12:05 AM

The motive for the ambush Monday morning that killed two firefighters and injured two others is still not clear. The contents of a recent obituary may help police shed some light on William Spengler's state of mind.

Police say William Spengler set a trap by burning up his home then laid in wait for firefighters to arrive.

"We're assuming he was shooting from a high ground advantage on a berm near the home," said Chief Gerald Pickering. "He had set himself up with his weapons to shoot the innocent responders."

News10NBC learned on Monday that Spengler had a history of killing. He spent 16 years in prison for the death of his grandmother in 1980. According to reports, she was found at the bottom of the basement stairs in her home on Lake Road. She had been beaten with a hammer. Spengler pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years behind bars.

While in prison, Spengler did not seem like a man seeking mercy or repentance. I-Team 10 has obtained a copy of his 1997 parole hearing. At that hearing, the commissioner says "you didn't want to come here today?"

Spengler replied, "I thought it was mandatory."

When told it was not, Spengler said, "Then it's not worth the time and effort."

He was denied parole, but was released six months later after serving two-thirds of the maximum. Since his release, police say he's been a quiet member of the Webster community.

"When he was released in 1998, he was on parole until 2006," says Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. "So during that time he would have been monitored by the Division of Parole and from what we know at this time, I don't think there has been any events during that time."

Police say they have had no contact with Spengler since his release. Why he may have deliberately targeted and ambushed four innocent firefighters on Christmas Eve morning is not yet clear.

Police are certainly looking at the significance of an obituary written for Arline Spengler, William Spengler's mother, who passed away in October. It asked for memorials be made to the West Webster Fireman's Association Ambulance Fund.

A source in law enforcement with knowledge of the case tells I-Team 10 investigators found three guns, including a semi-automatic rifle that shot 30 rounds in a clip. One of those magazines was spent. We're told three others had not been used before Spengler shot himself.

Spengler was a convicted felon and thus was not allowed by law to purchase or possess firearms. A source tells News10NBC that authorities do know the identity of the person who the guns are registered to and are now trying to determine how they got into the hands of Spengler.