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American criminal Dana Ewell orchestrated the murder of his parents and sister in order to become the executor of his grandmother's $400,000 trust account.
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It was assumed the family had disturbed a burglary on their return home,
but when homicide detective John Souza entered the crime scene two days later, he felt there was something staged about the incident. The killings were efficient and methodical—perhaps too methodical, as the murderer had waited on a sheet of plastic to avoid leaving clues. The intruder also calmly retrieved all the bullet casings from the scene, which indicated that the killer did not feel particularly rushed.
Dana appeared to have a tight alibi, having been 200 miles away at the time of the slaying. However, Souza and his fellow detectives weren't convinced that the intruder theory was cut and dry. Adding to their suspicion was the fact that Dana seemed oddly unaffected by the brutal killings, and instead demonstrated annoyance that he would not immediately receive his family's entire multimillion-dollar fortune. Dana also kept a receipt for some candy that he bought from a grocery store with his American Express card. He used this artifact as a means of proving a paper trail that, in his eyes, would exonerate him from the murders. His retention of the receipt just made the police even more suspicious. Despite Dana's alibi, he immediately became a suspect. But while Souza felt certain that Dana had something to do with the crime, there was no evidence that could link the young man to the killings.
While Dana didn’t fake compassion and shock at the slaughter of his own family, he did feign concern by offering a $50,000 reward for the killer's capture. His main worry, however, was how to get his hands on his father's business and assets. One frustrating problem for Dana was that his father's family, mainly his three brothers, prevented their nephew from receiving any of the funds and access to his father's wealth. This meant he had to plunder funds elsewhere, such as his Grandmother's $400,000 trust account.
In the meantime, Dana continued to live life as he always had, while Souza and his fellow detectives kept tight surveillance. They had Dana's pager and cell phone “cloned”, and they set up wiretaps to his landline. As far as Detective Souza was concerned, the main motivation was money. He saw Dana as being a callous sociopath who wasn't prepared to wait for his inheritance, which was stated in his father's will to be distributed to his son on his 25th, 30th and 35th birthday.
Supporting these allegations were documents uncovered during the investigations into Dana's involvement in his family's deaths. They revealed that Ewell 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.
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Armed and ruthless, spree killers become infamous for turning a flash of anger and resentment into a deadly rampage. Columbine killer Dylan Klebold introduced America to the horrors of school shootings when he killed 13 students and teachers in 1999, and in 2007 Seung-Hui Cho made us relive the nightmare when he murdered 32 people at Virginia Tech. In the end killers like these often become their own victims, when they turn their weapons on themselves.
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