Betty Jane Spencer, 71; Victims-Rights Advocate Spoke From Experience

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Betty Jane Spencer, 71, a victims-rights advocate who survived a 1977 home invasion that left her son and three stepsons slain, died Tuesday of undisclosed causes in a nursing home in Clinton, Ind.

On Valentine’s Day 1977, four men stormed into Spencer’s rural mobile home and ordered Spencer, her son and stepsons to lie face down on the floor. An hour later, after taunting and threatening the family, the men fired 11 shotgun rounds at them. The force of one blast blew Spencer’s wig askew and the killers, assuming her skull had shattered, left her for dead.

Spencer recalled the scene at the trial of the four killers, who were sentenced to life in prison.


She later founded the Parke County Victims Advocate Foundation and was the county’s first victim assistant. She also directed the Florida operations of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and served six years on the board of the National Organization for Victim Assistance.

For her work as a victims advocate, she was honored at a White House ceremony by President Ronald Reagan.