INDIANAPOLIS —Families never heal after the murder of a loved one, but Lora Spangle thought the Indiana prison system would tell her whenever something happened to the man serving a life sentence in her brother’s death.
Spangle said Indiana’s Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification system never alerted her after the man whose crimes had haunted her family since 1997 died in prison.
And Spangle discovered recently that Timothy Greer died about 18 months ago.
“I was shocked, you know. I was just shocked,” Spangle said. “At least we know what's going on now, but I wish that we had found out in the means that we were supposed to.”
Spangle’s brother Steven Stapleton was working at Don’s Guns in Greenwood when he was shot and killed during a robbery in October 1997.
Greer pleaded guilty to Stapleton’s murder and in March 2000 was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In 2007, Indiana launched an automated system that calls or sends an electronic message to crime victims when the offender who hurt them or their loved one is transferred, released or has some other change in status.
Spangle said she and her family have been signed up for the system for years. She said they’ve gotten notifications in the past when Greer was brought to court for hearings or moved to another prison.
Spangle doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about Greer. She said the shootings at a FedEx facility last week stirred the anger and sorrow that’s always there, deep inside. She was awake at 2 a.m. Thursday, hours after the FedEx gunman killed eight people before killing himself, she said.
“You know Steven went to work, just going to work and minding his own business, doing what he was supposed to be doing,” Spangle said. “That's what everybody was going to FedEx for that night when they got shot. That's what they were doing, trying to make a living, and it was just senseless.”
Triggered by the violence, Spangle started thinking about Greer. She wondered where he was; she wanted to be sure he was still locked up for life.
Spangle found she was unable to log on to the notification system last weekend, she said. She searched the internet and discovered through the Department of Correction inmate locator website that Greer had died on Sept. 13, 2019.
Annie Goeller, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an email that “IDOC is committed to working with victims through our victim services division."
“In this case, an error was made that accidentally deactivated Ms. Spangle as a contact from the victim notification system," Goeller said. "We are reviewing this incident to prevent this error in the future.”
In 2017, Call 6 Investigates found that the system had failed to notify multiple victims before offenders were released from prison.
Bob Dine was Greenwood’s police chief when Greer, aided by two teen accomplices, robbed the gun store and killed Stapleton. The teens also served time in prison for the crime.
“That was a very violent crime,” Dine said. “Timothy Greer came in and just started shooting. Steven Stapleton did not have a chance to do anything.”
Dine, who retired in 2018 after 41 years on the Greenwood Police Department, said Spangle deserved to be notified when Greer died.
“I feel sorry that she was slighted and treated this way,” Dine said, “because when you're a victim of a crime, you just never sometimes get over it.”
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at email@example.com or on Twitter: @vicryc.