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|Dana James Ewell|
January 28, 1971 |
Sunnyside, California, U.S.
|Parent(s)||Dale Ewell (father)
Glee Ewell (mother)
Ewell's father, businessman and multimillionaire Dale Ewell, his mother, Glee and his older sister Tiffany were murdered on April 19, 1992 in their Sunnyside, California home, near Fresno. At the time of the murders, Dana Ewell lived in the family home. Although he had an alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the murders, authorities suspected his involvement when Ewell expressed anger at learning that he would not inherit his family's wealth until age 35. According to the A&E American Justice episode "Eight Million Reasons to Kill," Ewell's father, Dale, who had built his airplane sales company from scratch, discovered that Dana was describing himself in the media as the successful owner of his father's company. Dale immediately increased Dana's age of inheritance from twenty-one to thirty-five. Dana did not discover what his father had done until Dale's will was read; Dale asked angrily how his father could increase his age of inheritance. Investigators considered and dismissed a number of other possible suspects (including Dale's business associates) before focusing on Dana, who was suspected of arranging his parents' deaths to obtain the family's estimated $7.9 million fortune.
Police eventually determined that Ernest Jack Ponce, a friend of Ewell's college classmate Joel Radovcich, bought a 9mm assault rifle shortly before the murders and concealed evidence (making him an accessory in the case). In exchange for immunity from prosecution Ponce agreed to testify against Ewell and Radovcich, who attended Santa Clara University. Radovcich used a homemade silencer on the rifle, lying in wait for the Ewells in their home in California's Central Valley as they returned from a long weekend on the Pacific coast.
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 which lasted over eight months. Ewell and Radovcich, who was promised a part of the family fortune in return for the killings, were sentenced on July 20, 1998. They are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, and all appeals have been denied. Ewell is in the Protective Housing Unit of California State Prison, Corcoran with Charles Manson, Juan Corona and other murderers requiring isolation from the general prison population.
The case is covered in the Forensic Files episode "Two in a Million" (season 12, episode 12, aired September 5, 2007), The New Detectives episode "Family Plots" (season 5, episode 9, aired January 25, 2000) and the Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice episode "Tailspin" (season 3, episode 5, aired September 5, 2003). City Confidential ("Fatal Inheritance"), American Justice ("Eight Million Reasons to Kill"), and Solved also did episodes on the case.
- "Appealing to God". College Times. The Santa Clara. 12 June 2006. Archived from the original on May 29, 2011.
- "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.
- "Dana Ewell biography". Biography.com. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
- Two in a million Archived September 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- http://www.dipity.com/timeline/Corcoran-State-Prison Archived August 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- "'Forensic Files' Season 12 Episode Guide", TV Guide, retrieved December 19, 2015