I don’t profess to know Dan Serafini very well. However, I certainly never expected him to be connected to an alleged murder.
The former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher was arrested last Friday in Winnemucca, Nev., in connection to a Lake Tahoe-area attack that left his father-in-law dead and his mother-in-law in critical condition.
Serafini, a left-hander, made 11 starts for the Pirates during the 2000 season. It wasn’t a memorable stint as he had a 2-5 record and a 4.91 ERA.
After a two-year investigation, Serafini, 49, and Samantha Scott, 33, were arrested separately in Nevada. Serafini was found northwest of Reno while Scott was apprehended at the Harry Reid Airport in Las Vegas.
Authorities said Serafini and Scott knew each other but would not describe their relationship. The victims – Robert Gary Spohr and his wife Wendy Wood – were shot in 2021 in their home near an unincorporated community in California near Lake Tahoe.
Spohr, 70, was killed. Wood survived but died a year later.
Video surveillance from their home showed a man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, face covering and backpack approaching it hours before the attack. Another video shows the same man walking up the driveway.
Deputies responded to the home after receiving a 911 call. They discovered Spohr had been shot once and Wood was shot at least twice.
“Today, justice was served,” Placer County Sheriff Wayne Woo said in a statement after Serafini and Scott were arrested. “The apprehension of those responsible for the tragic events that unfolded in Homewood, North Lake Tahoe in 2021 stands as a testament to the unwavering dedication of our detectives, law enforcement partners, and the persistence of our pursuit of truth.”
When I saw the news of Serafini’s arrest, my initial reaction was obviously surprise. Then I tried to remember Serafini’s time with the Pirates and whether I ever suspected he could someday be accused of such a heinous crime.
No, I didn’t see this coming.
My strongest memory of Serafini was that he was heavily tattooed. That stood out at a time when tats were still considered taboo in baseball circles.
After Serafini was hit hard in one of his starts, I remember writing in the Beaver County Times – where I was then the Pirates’ beat writer – that he had been tattooed.
I kind of regretted doing that after I saw the story in print and told Serafini I was sorry for being a wise guy. Serafini, though, laughed it off and said he thought it was funny.
The Pirates were of one of six major-league teams that Serafini played for between 1996 and 2007 along with the Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies, going 15-16 with a 6.04 ERA. He found more success playing in Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan and the Mexican League.
Serafini’s last season as a professional player was in 2013 in Mexico. Then he faded into obscurity and, quite frankly, I hadn’t thought of him in years as he was just one of scores of mediocre Pirates pitchers that I have covered over the last 36 seasons.
However, Serafini is back in the news now – in the worst way possible.