September 19, 1993*
Edward James strangled and rapes an 8-year-old before stabbing her grandmother to death
*Note: because the events began sometime before midnight and continued into the following day’s early hours, court documents list the date of the offense as September 19 while newspapers reported the date as September 20.
James had been renting a room from Betty Dick when he came home after a night of partying. He was intoxicated from drinking between 6 and 24 beers and a witness saw him dropping acid. He returned to Dick’s home, briefly waking Dick’s 9-year-old granddaughter Wendi Neuner. Wendi, her 8-year-old sister Toni, and their two toddler-aged brothers were staying over at their grandmother Betty’s house for the evening and were sleeping in the living room. Wendi saw James laughing as he made food which he then took to his room.
Shortly afterwards, James returned to the living room and grabbed Toni by the neck. He confessed to strangling the child, describing a detail of the murder saying he could hear her neck bones pop. He took Toni’s to his room where he raped her vaginally and anally; her autopsy revealed that while she did die of strangulation, Toni was still alive during the rapes, though it could not be determined if she was conscious during the sexual assault. Following the rape, James tossed Toni’s body behind his bed then went to Dick’s room, intent on raping her as well.
James struck Dick on the head with a candlestick which woke her up. Dick’s subsequent screaming woke Wendi again who came to her grandmother’s room. Wendi witnessed James stabbing her grandmother with a small knife before James noticed Wendi who then tried to flee. He caught her, tied her up, and put her in the bathroom, then took a butcher knife from the kitchen to ensure Dick was dead; she was stabbed a total of 21 times. He also removed the bottom portion of Dick’s pajamas but did not sexually assault her. With Wendi still in the bathroom, James took a shower to wash the blood off himself, stole Dick’s purse and some jewelry, and fled the state. He was arrested on October 6, 1993 in California and confessed to the murders. He was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death on August 18, 1995.