Dana Sue Gray – Serial Spendthrift

Dorinda Hawkins, 57, worked in an antiques shop called The Main Street Trading Post, located in Lake Elsinore, California. It was March 10, 1994 when a blonde woman in her mid-thirties entered the shop to “look around.” That’s what most customers did. Dorinda had no idea this woman was ensuring that no one else was around, so she didn’t grow suspicious when the woman asked if she was alone. Dorinda suddenly felt something around her throat. She twisted and saw the “customer” with a piece of nylon rope in her hand. Dorinda struggled to breathe. Using her full weight, her attacker pulled harder on it. Dorinda felt herself fade into oblivion. She remained unconscious for about forty minutes. Getting up, she called for help and was transported to a hospital.

It was just after nine o’clock in the morning when a neighbor on Continental Drive in Canyon Lake noticed that Norma was not yet stirring. Alice Williams noticed and she decided to check on her. Alice knocked and the door opened on its own. Alic  walked around the first floor, calling Norma’s name, but she received no response. In the upstairs den, Alice saw the elderly woman dead in a chair, her feet covered by a brown afghan. Two wooden knife hilts from the same set were visible in her body. The police arrived and noticed her neck had been so deeply slashed she was nearly beheaded. The killer stabbed Norma eleven times. June Roberts, 66, was killed on February 28, 1994. June, like Norma, lived in the gated community of Canyon Lake. Dana Sue Gray had visited Roberts claiming she wanted to borrow a book about controlling a drinking problem. June let Dana into her house. Dana unplugged the phone. She used the curly cord to strangle June then rifled through her credit cards, stealing two.

On March 16, 1994, Dana killed Dora Beebe, 87 a few minutes after Dora came home from a doctor’s appointment. Dana knocked on Dora’s door ans asked for directions. Dora invited Dana inside to look at a map where Dana attacked and killed Dora. An hour later, Dana went on a massive shopping spree at an upscale shopping center in Temecula. A male friend went to Dora’s home to find out if she was all right; he found her blood-covered body on the bathroom floor. She lay in a fetal position, and her scalp had bled from a terrible gash. Oddly, beneath her, they found a telephone. Dana was caught after a bank clerk notified June Roberts’s relatives that her credit cards had been used after her death. In Dana’s home, the police found jewelry, food, liquor, a ski mask, a purse with nearly $2,000 stuck in the washing machine, and many items of clothing she purchased with the dead woman’s credit cards. Dana cried and admitted she knew June Roberts. She said, “I got desperate to buy things. Shopping puts me at rest. I’m lost without it.” It turned out that Norma Davis was related by marriage to Dana’s mother, who was Norma’s daughter-in-law. Watch deadly women: Blood for money

Dana Sue Gray was born to Beverly and Russell Armbrust. Beverly was an aggressive woman who maxed out her husband’s credit cards; they divorced when her husband found her grappling with an older woman who angered her. Dana Sue was two years old at the time and rarely saw her father. When Beverly would discipline her, Dana retaliated by stealing money to buy candy and occasionally flying into fits of violence. In school, she did not get along well with other students and did poorly in all her classes. She was suspended from school many times for forging notes to get out of class.

An estranged half-brother named Cedric Ward told reporters about Dana’s motive. It was his belief that Dana suffered from exposure to a dysfunctional wealthy family from Newport Beach. There was a lot of depression and fighting in the home. “It was not happy growing up.” Cedric said he raised her after her mother died and noticed her issues with money. She had a habit of asking others to give her money and stealing it. On September 9, 1998, Dana, now 40, pled guilty. Thus, by accepting a life sentence for murder, she evaded the death sentence. In addition, she would not be charged with the murder of her step-grandmother, Norma Davis.

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