http://www.gastongazette.com/news/simonds_21497___article.html/sprenger_fraley.htmlWoman who discovered ex-boyfriend's body in trunk tells of her fears, gruesome discovery
June 10, 2008 - 10:07PM
Kim Sprenger had noticed the foul stench coming from inside her car for almost a day when she finally popped the trunk about 6 p.m. Sunday.
Before even looking at the man's face, she realized from his clothes that it was her estranged ex-boyfriend, Ricky Dale Simonds Sr.
"When I unlocked the trunk, I saw the body," she said from her home Tuesday evening, her voice breaking apart. "I didn't know at this point if he was still alive. I didn't know if he was going to jump out and attack me.
"I just backed away and started screaming."
Gastonia Police arrived soon after to confirm that Simonds was dead. They believe he opened the trunk with a key and crawled in sometime Saturday.
Sprenger ended a six-year relationship with Simonds in March and filed a restraining order against him May 26.
She believes his plan was to use an emergency latch inside the trunk to get out and attack her when she least expected it.
But temperatures over the weekend, which climbed into the high 90s, may have disoriented Simonds and killed him, according to police.
The bizarre discovery Sunday was made more strange by Simonds' involvement in the case of a missing 22-year-old girl. He was a former neighbor of Jamie Michelle Fraley, who was last seen April 8.
Simonds' son, Ricky Simonds Jr., was dating Fraley at the time she disappeared.
Sprenger lived with Simonds in the same unit at Copperfield Apartments on Lowell-Bethesda Road for some time. She asked him to move out in September, but when he moved back into a neighboring apartment a month or two later, they continued dating.
She said she knew he had served time in prison for a manslaughter conviction in 1986, but he had played down the incident. She only began to fear him after they broke up in March.
"I was never afraid of Rick until I ended our relationship," she said.
Gaston County Police were monitoring Simonds because he was a person of interest in Fraley's disappearance. They advised Sprenger last month that he had been seen around the home she shares with several other women in the Bradford Heights subdivision.
Sprenger said she noticed on the night of May 25 that a lock on the window of her home was broken and the curtain had been knocked down. That prompted her to take out the restraining order.
Then on May 31, she reported that someone broke into her car while it was parked in her driveway overnight. A black bag containing cash and her detailed appointment book were stolen from inside, she said.
Sprenger believes Simonds made a copy of her car key while they were dating, and used that to access the trunk.
She began honking the car horn when she got home from work at night, so her roommates would know to step outside. But she was becoming concerned for their safety as well as her own.
Simonds was known to carry a pocketknife, she said.
"I knew that I needed to not be alone, but I knew I may be putting others at risk," she said. "But I think women need to know they should go to any lengths necessary to keep themselves safe, and it's OK to ask for help."
Sprenger went to work at 3 p.m. Saturday. About an hour after she arrived, her car alarm started going off.
"I went out there, unlocked it and didn't see anything out of place," she said.
When she left work about 10:30 p.m., something in the car smelled bad. Sprenger thought it was something wet she had left inside.
At 8:45 a.m. Sunday, she drove several friends to church, and the stench inside the Ford Taurus had grown to be almost unbearable. Nine hours later, she decided to clean out the interior.
Simonds' body was positioned with his head on the right side of the trunk. His legs were curled up, with his knees against his chest, Sprenger said.
"Blood was coming out of his nose," she said. "It's very surreal. It's like a bad dream."
Sprenger said it frightens her how close she may have come to dying herself, had Simonds not apparently passed out.
"I have to say during this ordeal, I have continued to pray for my safety and Rick's peace," she said. "I think God gave me a solution."
Police have returned the vehicle to her.
"It's been cleaned," she said.
When she lived with Simonds at Copperfield Apartments, Sprenger said she knew Fraley well. Fraley would watch Sprenger's dog while she was at work.
The three would sometimes spend time together. But Sprenger said she doesn't know the extent of Fraley and Simonds' relationship with each other.
"As far as his relationship with her, I can't really comment on that," she said. "You'd have to ask Rick, and you really can't do that anymore."
Sprenger said she has cooperated with the police investigation into Fraley's disappearance. She said she took and passed a lie detector test.
She believes Simonds may have been involved in whatever happened to Fraley. And she said she sympathizes with what Kim Fraley of Bessemer City must be going through.
"As a mother," she said, "I understand her pain."