Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Thursday, June 20, 2013
PORT CHARLOTTE — Authorities have confirmed that the remains found in a Port Charlotte home Tuesday belong to the man suspected of burning it down.
Donald Hierspiel, 51, broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home on Riviera Lane early Tuesday morning and threatened her with a gun, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. He allegedly fired multiple shots and set the house on fire, but the woman managed to escape uninjured and ran to a neighbor’s home to call 911.
A body was found in the garage several hours later, and authorities Wednesday said an autopsy showed it was Hierspiel.
The relationship between Hierspiel and the victim had turned sour in recent months, court records show. The victim could not be reached for comment.
On May 10, she petitioned to have a restraining order against him, because she was worried that his behavior was ‘escalating from verbal abuse to mild physical abuse,’ according to a court document.
The victim had known Hierspiel since 2009 and had taken him into her home when he was released from prison in 2010. He had served 14 months for grand theft and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, records show.
Facebook posts from July 2011 show the couple exchanging banter.
‘Love you lots my crab-stomping, grass cutting, bing bing-fixing UFO!’ she wrote on his page.
‘You better,’ replied Hierspiel.
But Hierspiel, who owned an electronics business, changed after he started taking pain medication for an injury, she wrote in her petition.
The pills make ‘him angry, abusive and destructive because I don’t think he takes them as prescribed,’ she wrote.
After two incidents of what she referred to as ‘mild physical abuse,’ the victim began to fear for her well-being.
‘I know he has at least one gun somewhere,’ she wrote. ‘I don’t know if it is still in the house, and if it is I don’t know if he will get mad enough to use it on me or the dog.’
The restraining order became final on May 21. Hierspiel was barred from contacting the victim or coming within 500 feet of her, according to court documents.
On May 31, the victim posted a hopeful comment on her Facebook page: ‘No more hate and discontent. No more mud wallowing and middle school games. No more looking backward when there’s so much to look forward to!’
According to Kay Tvaroch, executive director of Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies, about 300 domestic violence offenses are reported to law enforcement each day in Florida.
‘It’s about power, it’s about control, and the threats and intimidation become a useful tool to keep someone,’ she said. ‘The best thing to do is get out, and we are here to help.’
There are 220 to 225 domestic homicides per year in Florida, Tvaroch said, citing Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence statistics.
In this case, she said, the victim did the right thing by taking steps to ensure her safety.
‘She was on the right track and she came out alive,’ Tvaroch said.