The Ewell Family Murders

Lori Johnston
12 min readJul 23, 2020
Glee, Tiffany and Dale Ewell (Photo:

Sunday, April 19, 1992 was a mild, partly sunny day in Sunnyside, California, a perfect Easter Sunday afternoon. Sunnyside, just over five miles from bustling Fresno — the most populated city in the Central Valley and fifth largest in the state — was a small bedroom community in the San Joaquin Valley, comprised mostly of Caucasians.

Glee and Dale (Photo:

Dale Ewell had been born in Ohio during the Depression, a hard worker who knew the value of a dollar. Perhaps his upbringing in a family that endured the Depression fueled his drive and fire but Dale became a successful and wealthy businessman, following a stint in the Air Force. He was president and owner of Western Piper Sales, Inc., a company that sold small aircraft. He used some of the profits from Western Piper to invest in several farms, further bulking up his financial portfolio. He had married the former Glee Mitchell and the two became parents to Tiffany in 1967 and Dana in 1971. His success allowed the Ewells a comfortable family home in Sunnyside, a beach house in Pajaro Dunes, luxury vehicles and designer clothing.

Dale, Glee, Tiffany and Dana had spent that Easter weekend at the beach house. That Easter Sunday morning, Dale and Dana had played a game of tennis and then entire family had walked the beach together. Rather than going home with his family, Dana left to go 160 miles away to the Bay Area to have dinner with his girlfriend, Monica Zent, and her father, John, who was an FBI agent. Glee and Tiffany returned directly to Sunnyside by car, while Dale chose to fly his private plane to his hangar and then pick up his car and head home.

Tiffany (Photo:

Glee and Tiffany had no way of knowing that someone waited for them, as they concluded their two and a half hour journey and entered the home. They were ambushed almost immediately, shot as they came through the door. Tiffany, a 24-year-old Fresno State graduate student, died first, shot in the head. Glee, 57, a former teacher and very well liked civic activist, was shot four times.


Lori Johnston

Writer, reader, margarita drinker. Currently looking for a “dare to be great” situation.