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William Spengler and the Strain Theory
Mohammad Gilani
Humber College

PFP 201
Amanda Scala
Monday, March 25, 2013

William Spengler and the Strain Theory

William Spengler Jr. killed two firefighters and severely injured 2 other firefighters and a police officer. Police later found that he was also associated with other crimes. Police say that they could not find a motive for his actions, but General Strain theory provides some suggestions as to why William Spengler would commit the crimes that he has committed. This essay will talk about the full William Spengler’s case, General Strain Theory and how it relates to the case. William Spengler Jr. was a 62 year old Caucasian male, who opened fired at four volunteer firefighters and one off-duty police officer; which as a result caused the deaths of the two firemen and severe injuries to the others. This tragedy took place in Webster, where William Spengler lived in a house with his 67-year-old sister Cheryle Spengler on 191 Lake Road near Lake Ontario. Spengler allured the firefighters to his house by setting the house and his car on fire on Christmas Eve. After setting the house and car on fire, Spengler went on top of a hill and waited for the firefighters to arrive. Spengler was fully equipped with three deadly weapons; pump-action shotgun, .38-caliber revolver and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, with ammunition for all the weapons. Chief Pickering described him as being, “equipped to go to war, kill innocent people.” However, even though Spengler brought a shotgun and a revolver, he only used the assault rifle to open fire at the first volunteer firefighters, Lt. Michael Chiaperini, 43, and Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, who arrived at 5:30 am. The two firefighters died while the other two wounded firefighters, Theodore Scardino and Joseph Hofsetter hid under a fire truck to shield themselves from the gun firing. One of them managed to flee even while being badly wounded. The other firefighter probably would have met the same fate as his colleagues, if it weren’t for an off-duty police officer, who was going to work, until he was fired at. He pulled over beside the fire truck and used his car to shield the firefighter and himself. Then the officer exchanged bullets with Spengler, while communicating on the radio. The officer informed his dispatch that he had two firefighters down, and two severely injured. The officer was also shot and badly wounded. Then a SWAT team arrived and evacuated the officer and firefighters. As the SWAT team began to close in towards William Spengler, who after being approached by SWAT team members, took his gun and shot himself in the head. The blaze had destroyed seven other houses and 33 civilians were evacuated. The officer and firefighters are in a hospital under serious conditions. Police thought that the crisis was over, but they were yet to receive another shock. They found a body in William Spengler’s house; which was later identified as Cheryle Spengler, Williams’s sister who shared the house with him. Police are predicting that this murder was also committed by William Spengler, with enough grounds to hold their argument. The body was found in the same house that William lit on fire and then later investigators interviewed Spengler’s next door neighbor, Roger Vercruysse, who knew William quite well and he told the investigators that William told him, “He hated his sister, but loved his mama.” Roger also told the investigators that Spengler “went crazy” after his mother, Arlene died on October 7. This may have caused a dispute between the siblings for property. Investigators interviewed another neighbor, Amy Warner, who had bought a cottage beside Spengler’s house and they found that Spengler had confessed to her 15 minutes after meeting her that he had killed his grandmother with a hammer because she wouldn’t give him money for drugs. Spengler was charged for manslaughter and spent 17 years in prison for killing his 92-year-old...
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