Indulged heir `had parents and sister killed'

A wealthy Californian has been charged with hiring a hitman to kill his father, mother and sister so he could inherit the $8m (£5m) family fortune.

In a case with echoes of the Menendez brothers scandal, Dana Ewell, a 23-year-old business graduate, faces three charges of first-degree murder for arranging for his former university room-mate to shoot dead his family while they were on an Easter Day holiday in their beach house.

Mr Ewell offered a $50,000 reward for the capture of the killers and talked of making his father, Dale, 59, proud by taking over his aviation dealership, and running the family farms.

But after a three-year investigation, detectives in Fresno County have concluded that Mr Ewell - reported IQ 180 - masterminded the triple murder. They have arrested three "accomplices" from his Catholic high school.

Mr Ewell, who has denied the charges, could face the death penalty if found guilty.

When his parents and sister Tiffany, 24, were gunned down in 1992, allegedly by an assassin using a semi-automatic assault rifle, Mr Ewell was 200 miles away with his girlfriend and her father, an FBI agent.

His alleged involvement has sickened family friends, not least because his parents appear to have been besotted with him. He is said to have received an allowance of $800 a month, and was given with the best computer and stereo equipment. When he graduated from high school his parents bought him a Mercedes 190. And when he wrecked the new car, his father - anxious no one should know - got him an identical one.

But, according to reports here, when Dana Ewell reached Santa Clara University he became obsessed with money.

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that he began behaving oddly after the murders, suggesting spy intrigue by saying his mother, Glee, 57, had worked for the CIA in Argentina.

The plot began to unravel when detectives monitored telephone conversations between Mr Ewell and Joel Radnovcich,24, his former university roommate and the alleged hitman.

Perhaps Mr Ewell's worst mistake was a light-hearted view of the case detectives, dubbing them "Mutt and Jeff".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Management Support Assistant

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Railway Museum, the largest of its ...

Sauce Recruitment: FP&A Analyst -Home Entertainment

£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: (Rolling) 3 month contractA global en...

Recruitment Genius: Sales and Account Manager - OTE £80,000+

£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - Kent - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - ne...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project