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|Dana James Ewell|
January 28, 1971 |
Fresno, California, U.S.
|Parents||Dale Ewell (father)
Glee Ewell (mother)
Ewell's father, businessman and multi-millionaire Dale Ewell; his mother, Glee; and his older sister, Tiffany, were murdered on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1992. The bodies were discovered by the Ewells' housekeeper, and investigation determined the Ewells had all been shot and killed by a 9mm firearm. Though the home appeared to have been ransacked as if by a burglar, police believe the scene to have been staged because valuables like jewelry were not disturbed. The only surviving member of the Ewell family was 21-year-old Dana, a college student.
Though Dana had a solid alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the murder, authorities nonetheless suspected his involvement in the homicides after Dana expressed anger upon learning that he would not inherit any of his family's wealth until the age of 35. Investigators briefly considered, but dismissed, a variety of other possible motives (e.g., investigating Dale's possible disgruntled business associates). But the investigation soon focused on Dana, who was suspected of somehow arranging his parents' death so that he could access the family fortune. In his freshman year at San Joaquin Memorial High School, Ewell stated that his goal was to be a multi-millionaire by the age of 25. However at age 21 he was still being supported by his parents. Dana had been lying to his friends, claiming that he was personally financially successful. Dana claimed to be a stock-market wiz and he also claimed to own his own airplane transport company. Dana's father, who actually earned his fortune by selling small airplanes, found out that Dana had been lying and bragging. Dale told Dana that after graduation from Santa Clara University, he would get no more financial assistance from the family. Dana Ewell's furious reaction to being financially cut off right before the murders, and his lack of grief over his family's deaths, led to his uncle's informing the investigators about the possibility that Dana was behind the murders.
Eventually, police determined that Dana's friend Ernest Jack Ponce bought a 9-mm assault rifle shortly before the murder and was an accessory in hiding evidence after the murders but had no knowledge of the planned crimes beforehand. In exchange for immunity from prosecution, Ponce agreed to testify against Dana Ewell and Joel Radovcich, Dana's roommate at Santa Clara University. Radovcich used a homemade silencer on the rifle to lie in wait for the Ewells in their home in the Central Valley as they returned from a long weekend on the Pacific coast.
Ewell was sentenced on May 12, 1998, alongside Radovcich, who was promised a part of the family fortune in return for executing Dana's family. Ponce (who procured the murder weapon) was also charged with the murders, but he obtained a dismissal in exchange for his testimony and was later licensed as an attorney. At the time of the murders, Dana Ewell still lived in the family's comfortable Sunnyside-area home near Fresno.
The case was investigated by Fresno County Sheriff's Office Homicide Detectives John Souza and Chris Curtice. Fresno County Assistant District Attorneys James Oppliger and Jeffrey Hammerschmidt prosecuted Ewell and Radovcich in a jury trial that took more than eight months. Both Ewell and Radovcich are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, and all of their appeals have been denied.
Dana Ewell resides in the Protective Housing Unit of California State Prison, Corcoran, with Charles Manson, Juan Corona, and other murderers who require "extraordinary protection" from other inmates.
The case is covered in a Forensic Files episode "Two in a Million" (season 11, episode 40).
- "Appealing to God". College Times. The Santa Clara. 12 June 2006.
- "Son, Friend Convicted of Killing Parents, Sister". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press via Los Angeles Times. 13 May 1998.
- Beitiks, Kathleen O. (May 1997). "Wheels of justice grind slowly in Ewell murders". California Bar Journal.
- Two in a million[dead link]
- http://www.dipity.com/timeline/Corcoran-State-Prison[dead link]
- Arax, Mark (March 22, 1993). "CALIFORNIA ALBUM : Slaying of Family Remains a Mystery : Fresno police have mostly discounted possible ties of wealthy businessman to drug dealing or disgruntled Filipino investors. They now focus on the lone surviving son". Los Angeles Times.
- "Dana Ewell Biography". bio. True Story. A+E Television Networks.