Nine Years Leaves A Nasty, Numbskull Nilhilist Nonplussed and Nauseous

We seem to be on a roll with young psychopaths who murder their entire families at home. Not surprisingly they share a few traits. They are:

  1. motivated by greed
  2. psychopaths
  3. filled with rage
  4. unsuccessful at “getting away with murder
  5. use a violent means to murder their kin
  6. cowards

More than anything, these people are cowardly. They usually slay their families while they sleep (consider the White House Farm Murders and The Amityville Horror, among others). They refuse to encounter their family members during the daytime and be met with resistance, or the possibility their kin just might escape. Even more pathetic is that some of these pathological people don’t want their family members looking at them during their last violent moments of life. Cowards.

Dana Ewell was one such greedy, cowardly killer. He pursued a slightly different danaapproach however by hiring his best friend Joel Radovich to kill his family in 1992. A well-known and Fresno family, Glee, Dale and Tiffany Ewell were murdered 20 years ago on Easter in 1992. The case initially targeted a third defendant being the man who admitted to buying the murder weapon and later burying it. Prosecutors gave Ernest Jack Ponce immunity in exchange for his testimony but the jury didn’t trust Ponce. He described the murders in great detail and had a Freudian slip while talking about how Dale Ewell died. He described the murders from Joel’s standpoint but he said, ‘and I saw the eye,’, then corrected himself. Several jurors at the Dana Ewell murder trial believed Radovcich was not alone at the Ewell house but because of Ponce’s immunity they couldn’t stop him from walking. Ponce even passed a lie detector test. Two decades later he is an attorney in Orange County. He never responded to repeated requests for comment on the case. His true role may always remain a mystery.

From a very early age Dana Ewell was obsessed with money. He was ambitious, like his father but unlike his father wasn’t prepared to work to gain status and wealth. In his freshman year at San Joaquin Memorial High School Dana had been lying to his friends claiming he was financially successful. He dressed in Armani suits and carried a briefcase. He regularly flashed $100 bills. At times he bought everyone in the school cafeteria hamburgers and gave out $100 bills at parties. Dana claimed his goal was to be a multi-millionaire by age 25 but at age 21 he was still being supported by his parents. Dana claimed to be a stock-market wiz and he claimed to own his own airplane transport company. The relationship between Dale and Dana was odd. Dale was a hard-nosed businessman who built his fortune by setting up the company Western Piper Sales Inc. selling small aircraft. Dale was known to be a strict father yet he indulged Dana by providing

danaahim with expensive toys. Dana drove a Mercedes and when he demolished it in an accident, Dale simply bought him another one even taking the blame for the accident .At the same time the reality of a father-son relationship was strained to the point of non-communication. There is little doubt that revelations about Dana’s concocting of absurd tales about himself embarrassed his father and led to confrontations. In fact after Dale found out Dana was lying and bragging about his supposed business successes he promptly told his son he was cutting him off financially that summer when he was expected to graduate from Santa Clara University. This must have caused Dana considerable stress and confusion and small wonder. Dale’s behavior was highly inconsistent. He spoiled Dana to the extreme then refused to support Dana when he discovered his son was a braggart. Dana was very angry and allegedly this was what led him to plot the murders.

dana

On Tuesday April 21, 1992, the Ewell’s housekeeper arrived to begin her usual work day. She entered the kitchen and found Tiffany lying in a pool of blood on the floor. She lay face down with her hands beneath her. The housekeeper turned around and fled to a neighbour’s home who called the police. When police arrived they discovered the bodies of Dale and Glee. The house was ransacked but it appeared to be staged. Bureau drawers were left open suggesting the killer had opened the drawers from the top to the bottom whereas most burglars open bottom drawers upward so no drawers have to be shut in order to access the rest. In these bureaus some drawers were closed, some were open and some were partially open. There was no sign of forced entry although the house was always locked and protected with a combination code. Someone either had a key or knew the combination.

Just as telling was Dale’s absence during the murder of his wife and daughter. He Joel-Radovichwas at an airplane hangar flying his own plane. He didn’t arrive home for 40 minutes after the crime and he was shot as he walked through the door. It became more obvious to investigators that burglary wasn’t a motive. No burglar ransacked a house, murdered two of its occupants then waited for the third to return home. This was strictly a triple homicide. The murder of an entire family is rare and very unusual. Police conducted background checks on all family members and discovered Glee was a former member of the CIA. Glee was a task leader and not involved in espionage.

Initially Dana wasn’t a suspect.  Dale advertised a $50,000.00 reward to anyone with tips that might lead to an arrest. His iron clad alibi was impossible to refute. He spent Easter weekend with his girlfriend and was seen by many people. He didn’t have a volatile relationship with his family and wasn’t a violent man. He had no reason to dislike his mother or sister.  The tension between Dana and his father appeared to be typical of most father-son relationships.

danaDana stood to gain significant money when his parents and sibling were dead becoming the sole heir to an $8 million fortune. In an ironic twist after his death Dale Ewell had the last laugh.  At the reading of the will Dana discovered he’d have to wait nine years before controlling most of the money. Upon hearing the news he exploded. He punched the table with his fist and blurted, “how could my father do that to me?” Indeed. Another frustrating problem for Dana was that his three uncles prevented their nephew from receiving the funds and access to his father’s wealth. Dana’s furious reaction to not gaining his full inheritance and his lack of grief over the deaths of his parents and sister led to his uncles suspicion that Dana was behind the murders. Naturally they communicated their suspicions to the police. 

It was at this point that Joel Radovich was brought into the case. Radovich was a tv-8-showPhotoborn loser. He was kicked out of his dorm for stealing furniture. He did strange things such as picking up a head of lettuce meant for everyone to eat, smelling it, then throwing it back into the bowl. He wasn’t especially intelligent.When investigators eventually approached Radovich and stated they knew he was a good friend of Dale’s Radovich’s first comment was, “what are you going to do, arrest me?” His alibi on the day of the murders didn’t check out. Radovich became the prime suspect in the murders. He vanished for several weeks after his initial questioning until police discovered he was living with Dana in the same house as the murders.

Jeff Hammerschmidt was the junior prosecutor in the murder trial. He traced activity in Ewell’s 47, yes 47 bank accounts to prove Dana was funneling money to Radovcich, a person he claimed to barely know. Detectives kept tight surveillance on both men and had Dana’s pager and cell phone “cloned.” They set up wiretaps to his landline. They soon learned Dana had plundered his grandmother’s account leaving only $2,000 out of an original fund of $400,000. Transactions took place over a three-year period and supported his and girlfriend Monica Zent’s expensive lifestyles.

danaAlthough Joel Radovcich was the trigger who shot and killed Dana’s parents the jurors at Dana’s murder trial actually sympathized with Radovich. They saw him as a broken being and someone Dana Ewell simply used as means to an end, very generous of them since the second victim Glee Ewell caught a glimpse of the killer, a man who was a guest in the house a month before. Ballistics studies proved Radovich straddled her and shot her at close range. Jury foreman Mike Elder told Action News that the jurors could sense Dana was an evil man. “Dana actually scared people,” Elder said. “They would look over at him and he had this look on his face. You just thought any minute these horns were going to come up.” Without any evidence jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on whether the killers should be put to death. After 10 days of deliberation the jury convicted Radovcich of first-degree murder and Dana of conspiracy to commit murder. They received mandatory life sentences but were spared the death penalty. Both men have now exhausted their appeals and will die in prison.

Instead of becoming a millionaire Dana Ewell is isolated at Corcoran State Prison.  Kraig Hanadel has written a biography about Dana Ewell, detailing the case, titled Catch Me if You Can. Carlton Smith wrote a non-fiction work detailing the case titled Seeds of Evil.

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23 Responses to Nine Years Leaves A Nasty, Numbskull Nilhilist Nonplussed and Nauseous

  1. Sam says:

    Are they cowardly or filled with shame ? Does it make you feel like a big man to call people a coward ?
    And as for “not getting away with murder” being a shared trait, isn’t that something shared between all people who have been convicted of murder ? Your list was written by a meathead. Meathead.

    • gothrules says:

      Full of shame? Where do you get that? Indeed they are cowards, as are many convicted killers. A meathead? Actually the list is comprised of similar traits based on forensic research, not a made-up list. Would you like to submit your own list?

    • Matthew says:

      What ARE you talking about? Is English NOT your primary language?

      These comments are written by someone who obviously missed a tremendous amount of English classes growing up.

      Your point is what? Really? What is your point of writing this? It makes no damn sense at all…thus you are the Meathead (and that is mild compared to what I wanted to call you…)

  2. Xam says:

    Wood you refer to someone as being “brave” if they were able to “look in the eyes” of a family member (or any person) as they murdered them ? Doesn’t that sound ludicrous to you ?

    • gothrules says:

      People who kill their families sound ludicrous to me. Certainly killing a defenseless person as s/he sleeps isn’t an act of bravery. The word is spelled “would” by the way.

      • Travis Cole says:

        People who kill period sounds ludicrous… Same can be said about the drone attacks in Pakistan. Seems like anything to our advantage is deemed cowardly depending on the situation we are in.

      • marilyn4ever says:

        not sure I understand your last statement – anything to our advantage is deemed cowardly depending on the situation we are in. Could you elaborate?

  3. Travis Cole says:

    Some people will do or say just about anything in the heat of passion, and many will do whatever it takes to be financially stable. It’s obvious that he was very passionate about money, just like most are passionate about the second amendment. He was a coward for not taking responsibility for his actions. There is no bravery in killing your own family, sounds more demented to me.

  4. Memmen says:

    The author of this story is just some poor stupid dick ! This story has been rewritten so many times by so many people over the years it’s not even the same story anymore – I was at the trial ! Joel was my roommate for 3 months in Huntington Beach Calif. – I was completely unaware the murders had even occurred until after he moved out of my apartment – 5 detectives interviewed the apartment manager and she was the 1st one to tell me about it. Soon after I was interviewed by Fresno Detectives as well as the Valley edition of the LA Times. More then 400 people were subpoenaed to the trial including myself going as far back as their grade school teachers – It was the largest homicide case in Fresno Calif history. So yes it was a big deal then but this was more then 20 years ago. For christ sake let it go ! get over it ! I just happened to stumble into this stupid story while looking for something else unrelated – Joel was not stupid – his father was an airline pilot – Not that he was all that brainy but he was above average intelligence in my view – he was kind of a strange character though – I actually got evicted from my apartment for renting to him – didn’t show up my credit report but still – how the heck was I supposed to know – I ran an ad for a room for rent and he rented it – end of story – It really was like – WOW – he did what ! of a surprise though when I learned of the whole thing. I own a house now – No more roommates ! 🙂

    • marilyn4ever says:

      Let’s see now – you got evicted from your apartment when you rented to him – sounds a lot like the loser kind of thing he was doing before getting recruited by Dana Ewell to shoot his parents and remain quiet about it. Lack of funds. Easily swayed. Not especially intelligent. Completely amoral. Perhaps your assessment isn’t as tangible as that of the professionally trained and accredited court psychiatrists? I love the sentence “how the heck was I supposed to know?” Indeed.

    • marilyn4ever says:

      If you weren’t a “poor stupid dick” you would indeed have known that this man would get you evicted. You would have conducted a credit check in his background and contacted his employment referees. Also, watch your language and your attitude or I won’t post anymore of your comments. The information I present on this blog is from several blogs and websites. I don’t make this stuff up.

    • RPD says:

      I went to high school with Joel Radovich, not Radovcich as he is always called. It was a Catholic prep school that required students to pass an entrance exam so I can also confirm that he was not stupid. Due to the class sizes being quite small and through yearly retreats, the students were very familiar with each other. Joel was not a loner in school, he had friends, nor did he act strange, no stranger than any teenager dealing with insecurities. If anything, Joel was thoughtful and friendly. Its beyond me how the guy I knew could have devolved into someone who committed such a heinous act.

  5. Marina Francisco says:

    Dana is on writeaprisoner.com looking for pen pals. Here’s part of what he says: “A finance graduate from Santa Clara University, I was beginning my career in investment banking when some extraordinarily painful events turned my world upside down.”

    Apparently he found Jesus three years after he went to prison. Sometime tells me he is still an empty shell of a psychopath pretending to be a human being.

    • marilyn4ever says:

      They usually are….he should have married Karla Faye Tucker…and I just can’t wait to start writing to him (not)

      • Marina Francisco says:

        Did you see the “Solved” episode about the case? At one point in a police interview he says that his sister was a shy “creature” – he talked about her with no feeling whatsoever. Every so often a normal family spawns a sociopath and that’s what he is. You can’t change that.

      • marilyn4ever says:

        I’ve never defended this creep. Calling her the creature doesn’t surprise me.

    • newsjunky says:

      I also read Ewell’s profile on “Write a Prisoner”. He said also that when growing up he learned to fly air planes and helicopters. According to Dominick Dunn’s Power, Privilege and Justice program, he and that Radovich guy took helicopter flying lessons, after Dana’s family was murdered. Also, he says he was finance graduate from Santa Clara University, but I haven’t read anywhere that he graduated from the University or that he was beginning his career in investment banking, unless you want to believe his invading his Grandmother’s extensive fortune, in her bank accounts, and setting up his own bank accounts, with the money, investment banking.

  6. Susan Johnson says:

    Thank you for keeping this story alive! What a disgusting tragedy. After seeing so many negative comments directed your way: like the one who suggests you “get over it”.(as if it’s normal and healthy to sweep aside a murder); or the name hurtling ‘expert/know it all’ who was “at the trial” and ” a roommate”; etc.. I thought I’d drop a line of appreciation because I think it’s so sad when these tragic cases get forgotten. Kindest Regards..

    • marilyn4ever says:

      Thank you. I agree with you, naturally.

    • newsjunky says:

      I think it depends. Umm, many People have committed terrible crimes, were convicted and went to prison. Yes they committed the crime, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the individual was bad to the core, it just means for whatever reason, they committed a crime. Now this Ewell Man, I do not put him in that category. I think this individual is bad to the core, and Prison is where he belongs for the rest of his life. I guess I just hate to see People painted with the same huge brush. I think it’s a hoot that he lives in the same prison area as Charlie Manson, and Sirhan Sirhan, it’s where he belongs.

  7. Betsy says:

    Wow, I can’t believe all the people coming at you over freaking killers! I don’t know how anyone can’t call these men cowards. Instead of making their own way in life, they sought to take the easy way out by sneaking up on innocent people and murdering them in cold blood for money. And the guy saying he found your article by accident, then goes off on a rant about his perspective, then tells you to get over it? Yeah right, what a loon. It’s a sad world when you’re not safe from your own children. Human nature is a terrifying thing. We can give birth to normal sane children, or sociopathic/narcissistic murders.

  8. Ten says:

    There are parallels between the young killers in this case and the case of Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns, who were convicted of killing Rafay’s parents and sister in Seattle.
    Like Ewell and Radovich, they also involved a 3rd person, a mutual high school friend who took a deal and testified against them. Both Burns and Ewell thought they were smarter than the investigators, both were good looking and liked to show off what they had. Both made sure many people saw them in public the day of the murder.

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