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'Springer' Murder Witness Released

Anita O'Day stands in her tiny room at the Danmar Retirement Villa were she lived in a May 25, 1999 photo in Los Angeles.
AP (file)
The wife of a man charged with murdering his ex-wife after the three appeared on The Jerry Springer Show was released on $25,000 bail on Monday, officials said.

Eleanor Panitz had been held as a material witness in the slaying of Nancy Campbell-Panitz. But she has been released to the custody of a friend. Her husband Ralf Panitz is jailed on a first-degree murder charge in the death of his ex-wife. He has been ordered held without bail.

Defense attorney Jane Weintraub told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on Friday that the couple decided to surrender after realizing they were suspects.

The couple and their lawyers brokered a deal with Sarasota authorities while in Boston on Thursday. They flew to Tampa, about 60 miles north of Sarasota, on Friday and surrendered.

A first-degree murder warrant had been issued against Ralf Panitz for the slaying of Nancy Campbell-Panitz, whose body was found July 24. Earlier that day, a national audience reveled in the details of the strange and strained relationship she had with her former husband and his new wife.

Just hours before she was beaten to death, Campbell-Panitz had told a judge that her former husband had threatened her life. Ralf Panitz may also be a threat to others, sheriffs said.

"Based on this case and others we consider him dangerous," Capt. Jerry Eggleston of the Sarasota Sheriff's Office told CBS News Correspondent Jennifer Jones.

A judge had issued an order allowing police to detain Eleanor Panitz, 35, as a material witness to Campbell-Panitz's slaying. The Panitzes had also appeared on the Springer show, accusing Campbell-Panitz of stalking them and surprising her with the news of their marriage.

Authorities had said they believed the couple would try to reach the Canadian border. Weintraub insisted those reports were inaccurate.

In the show that had been taped in May and was broadcast July 24, Nancy Campbell-Panitz, 52; Ralf Panitz, 40, and Eleanor Panitz, 35, traded barbs for five minutes. Panitz and his wife claimed Campbell-Panitz had been stalking him. Campbell-Panitz eventually walked off the stage to applause shortly after her ex-husband's new wife called her "old" and "fat."

A few hours after the show aired and not long after Campbell-Panitz told a judge she feared for her life she was found dead in her Sarasota home.