Posted on 07 January 2015.
Spencer Crandall’s family believes he may have been sleepwalking, and was possibly intoxicated, when he was shot and killed outside a neighbor’s home the day after Christmas.
MEMORIES OF HIS BROTHER – Ryan Crandall holds a photo of Spencer and Amanda Crandall. Spencer Crandall was recently shot and killed near his home in Rhome. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford
Crandall, 31, of Rhome, was shot at around 4 a.m. Dec. 26, a few houses down from his own home on Carpenter Lane in the Shale Creek neighborhood east of Rhome.
Investigators interviewed the homeowner who shot Crandall. He said he did not know the man who came knocking on their door and ringing the doorbell, saying he needed to get in the house. The homeowner said he and Crandall struggled in the yard, then he warned Crandall he had a gun. When Crandall continued to try to enter the home, he was shot in the chest.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Crandall’s brother, Ryan, said it was not in his brother’s character to try to break into someone else’s home or be confrontational.
“Spencer was the kindest, most gentle peacemaking person I’ve ever met,” he said. “That was his role in the family and his role in life. I don’t know anyone, anywhere that he’s had a disagreement with. He was just a very gentle person and a good man.”
Ryan said his brother had suffered from back pain all of his life, and lately it had gotten worse. He would often wake up around 4 a.m. and walk around the block to help loosen up his back before coming back to bed.
The route Spencer would take, according to family, would be to walk down about four houses and then cross the street – directly in front of the home he was trying to enter the morning he was shot.
Spencer’s wife, Amanda, had said he had also been sleepwalking recently, around that same time of morning.
“She had had full conversations he couldn’t remember the next morning,” Ryan said. “He had left the house to go in the backyard or the front yard, and every time she had been there to grab him by the arm to pull him back in. … She knew when she talked to him he wasn’t awake. Sometimes it was just gibberish.”
Ryan said his brother did not drink alcohol regularly because of his faith, but he would drink occasionally to help when his back pain became worse. Ryan said their father went to Spencer’s home the morning he was killed and found nine empty beer cans on the table.
“It’s certainly our belief that Spencer was sleepwalking and somewhat inebriated when he was shot and killed,” Ryan said. “That’s a pretty heavy price to pay.”
Amanda was not with her husband the morning he was killed. She had left Christmas morning to visit grandparents in Mississippi. Spencer was supposed to make the trip with her, but due to his back condition, he couldn’t sit for the eight-hour car trip.
Although Spencer had a prescription for carisoprodol, a muscle relaxer to help with the back pain, the family does not believe he had taken any prior to the incident.
Ryan said Spencer was self-employed and helped his dad with his construction/farming business. On Christmas Eve, Spencer had helped his dad paint a house. That same day, he joined the family for Christmas Eve dinner before heading home with Amanda. She left on her trip at 9 a.m. the next morning.
Amanda spoke with her husband by phone around 7 p.m. on Christmas night, and then around midnight when Spencer accidentally dialed her number.
“They talked briefly. She told him she loved him, he told her he loved her. He said he was very tired and wanted to go to bed, so they ended their conversation and he went to bed, presumably,” Ryan said.
The next morning, Amanda heard about the shooting just down the street and became worried her husband might have been involved, a fear that only grew when she couldn’t reach him by phone. Police in Mississippi eventually delivered the news of her husband’s death.
They had been married less than three years and had moved into their home shortly after getting married.
“He poured all of his heart and effort into that house,” said Spencer’s sister, Jessica Crandall. “He planned on starting a family there.”
Although Amanda has been staying with family out of town recently, Ryan said she plans on moving back to her home eventually.
Wise County Sheriff David Walker said investigators are still working on the case and noted the preliminary autopsy report simply stated the obvious information – that Spencer died from a gunshot wound to the chest. He said they have talked to the three people who were at the home where the shooting took place as well as Spencer’s family members.
Walker said the toxicology report could help answer some questions, but it could still be several weeks before those results are available.
The case is expected to eventually be turned over to the district attorney, who could decide to bring it before a grand jury. No arrests have been made.
Whether laws were broken or not, Ryan said he believes his brother’s death was avoidable.
“To avoid this tragedy, all the shooter had to do was go inside and lock the door and let the police come,” he said. “Instead, he decided to be the police and took matters into his own hands and took a life.
“To me, it was completely unnecessary. Even though it may have been legal – I don’t know whether it was or wasn’t – to me it certainly wasn’t moral and could have been completely avoided.”