Spencer Crandall Shot Dead: Texas Sleepwalking Man Killed, Mistaken For Intruder
On Christmas morning, the Crandall family posed for pictures outside at the Denton County Courthouse in Texas. Hours past midnight, in the early hours on the next day, one family member died. Spencer Crandall, shot dead on his neighbor’s porch, was likely sleepwalking at the time, but was mistaken for an intruder, citing a USA Today news report.
Neighbor Craig Rigtrup was asleep in bed with his wife when they heard the noise of someone knocking repeatedly on their front door about 4 a.m. Alarmed by the late night visitor, Rigtrup called 911 before arming himself and heading outside to investigate the disturbance. There he observed a man climbing his privacy fence to get in his backyard.
He encountered the man, but it wasn’t clear if he knew it was Spencer Crandall before the man was shot dead. A struggle ensued, according to Wise County Sheriff David Walker.
“They fought briefly. At some point, (Rigtrup) backed away from the man and told him he was armed. The man kept saying he needed to get inside of the house.”
During the altercation, the neighbor created distance between the two and warned Crandall that he was armed with a firearm. But that didn’t stop the Texas man from disobeying orders to stay on the ground. Instead, the intruder insisted that he needed to get inside the home, and tried to push his way inside.
Fearing that Crandall may gain access to his home and do harm to his wife and 14-year-old daughter, Rigtrup fired a single shot, striking the man in the chest. Police arrived a short time later and found him dead on the man’s front porch, according to Walker.
“Right now, it just appears the homeowner was doing what every homeowner would do and protect their home and their family.”
According to Ryan Crandall, the dead man’s brother, Spencer has a history of sleepwalking, and he was likely suffering from an episode on the day he was shot dead.
— Whitney Elkins (@Whitney04) December 31, 2014
At the time of the shooting, the decedent’s wife was out of town. Amanda Crandall said she suspects her husband had taken a mixture of beer and muscle relaxers, and he didn’t know he was at his neighbor’s home. Apparently, he suffered from back problems, and although he is Mormon, the beer was likely used to cope with the pain.
“Sometimes he would make it into the front yard and she would go out and physically grab his arm and pull him back into the house so that he would be safe,” Ryan Crandall said.
Spencer’s sister, Jessica Lawrence, talked fondly about her brother. She said he was an active member of the church and was heavily involved in the mission.
“We are all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And he had served in mission for our church and he loved that experience. He was the kindest, meekest, most gentle person I’ve met in my life,” Lawrence added.
Although some sources are reporting about Spencer Crandall’s previous run-in with the law, his brother said the criminal trespassing charge was about driving past a traffic barrier at UNT College where he graduated with a degree in accounting.
Back in September, the Inquisitr reported on another sleepwalking incident that ended in only injury. Then, a camper fell 60 feet to the ground off a Kentucky cliff after walking in his sleep. Thankfully, others with him realized he was missing and found him a short time later.
Although Spencer Crandall was shot dead, no charges are being filed by police, who dismiss the case as a tragic case of sleepwalking.