Karen Spencer asked her husband, Dusty Spencer, to move out of their home early in December 1991.
On December 10, 1991, Dusty Spencer questioned Karen about money that she had withdrawn from the banking account for their painting business. This argument led to a physical altercation in which Dusty choked, hit, and threatened to kill Karen. Karen called the police, and the police subsequently arrested Dusty. Dusty later called and threatened Karen from jail.
Karen Spencer requested that Dusty Spencer spend the holidays at their home, but asked him to leave after Christmas. On New Year’s Day, Dusty told friends that he had considered throwing Karen off of his boat, in order to drown her.
On January 4, 1992, Dusty Spencer again went to Karen’s home, and they fought. During the fight, Timothy Johnson, Karen’s son awoke, and went into his mother’s bedroom where Dusty and Karen Spencer were fighting. According to Johnson, Dusty was on top of Karen and was hitting her with a clothes iron. When Johnson intervened, Dusty hit him with the clothes iron as Johnson retreated to his bedroom.
Karen fled the home to find help. Johnson tried to call for help, but Dusty Spencer pulled the phone out of the wall. Dusty then fled the house and left town. Karen Spencer and Timothy Johnson were taken to the hospital and a physician confirmed that Karen’s wounds were consistent with being struck by a clothes iron.
On November 18, 1992, Timothy Johnson heard fighting in the backyard. He retrieved a firearm from his mother’s bedroom and went outside. Once outside, Johnson saw Dusty Spencer hitting his mother with a brick. He also observed blood on Karen Spencer’s face.
Johnson reported that he tried to shoot Dusty Spencer, but the firearm misfired. Thus, he hit Spencer in the head with the butt of the firearm.
Dusty then pulled up Karen’s nightgown and made lewd comments and slammed Karen’s head against a concrete wall. Karen was begging Dusty to stop and Johnson tried to help his mother get away from Dusty. Dusty threatened Johnson with a knife and Johnson ran to a neighbor’s home to find help.
The police were called, and upon arrival, they found the dead body of Karen Spencer. The police determined that she had been stabbed four or five times in the chest.