This weeks true crime tale begins in West Virginia (no, get your minds out of the gutter, there is no incest in this story). There was a small family of three: a mother, a son, and a stepfather. This is the story of Donald Dunn and the murder and attempted murder of his parents.
I had no idea who Donald Dunn was before watching A Lie To Die For, Season 1, Episode 5, “Deadly Diploma”. I needed a new true crime show to binge watch and the title of the show intrigued me. Due to the fall lineup on the network stations not starting for another week or so, my husband and I decided to watch this show one evening. This is where I met the prodigal son, Donald.
Donald was by all means a typical child. He was loved by his mother, Johanna, and stepfather, Mark. Mark entered Donald’s life pretty early on. He loved the boy, always being there for him. His parents spoiled him. He never had to ask for anything. Johanna and Mark bought him whatever he wanted.
So here we are, a boy who is tremendously loved by his parents and given everything he could ever want. Why would he want to kill his parents?!
Well, as the title states, this millennial fits the stereotype that a lot of people have towards millennials. Donald became lazy. Selfish and lazy.
Donald started community college back in 2008 and then transferred to Marshall University in 2010. It wasn’t long after this transfer that Donald failed out of college. Like any “good” son, he decided not to tell his parents. He moved in with his long time girlfriend and her sister and pretended to go to class. According to them he would leave for 1-2 hours and come back. They didn’t think anything of it. Turns out, young Donald was going and getting high during this time frame. When he was back at the apartment he would play video games and watch movies with his girlfriend. Typical college student behavior. All this while keeping his parents money. He was living the lazy sloth-like life he always wanted… and one he would kill for.
Johanna calls 911 on May 25, 2013, the day that was supposed to be Donald’s college graduation. In this 911 call, Johanna tells police that she shot and killed her husband in self defense. Her son Donald had been in the shower but came upstairs to his mother once he was beckoned to do so. They arrest Johanna and question both at the police station.
Open and shut case, right?! Oh so wrong!
At the police station Johanna is quick to change her story. She tells police that Donald is the one who shot and killed Mark and that he attempted to shoot and kill her as well. He told his mother he had a gift for her and to sit at the dining room table and he’ll bring it to her. Instead he points the gun at the back of her head and shoots. Lucky for Johanna, the gun jams and she frees herself begging her son to turn himself in. Instead he forces her to call the police and tell them she killed Mark.
Now the police don’t know who the heck to believe. That is until…
… Donald breaks!
He fully admits to killing his stepfather and attempting to kill his mother. Then he explains why beginning with:
“First semester there, the classes went from, if you show up, you get an A, to actually having to put forth the effort and do the work,” Donald Dunn told police, “It was just beyond me. I just didn’t have the faculties to do it.” (But you have the faculties to use this word)
Hmmm… didn’t have the faculties to do it. So now Donald is trying to convince everyone he is a big dummy.
He continues by saying he enjoyed living the comfortable life he was living doing nothing and leeching off his parents. He figured to continue that life that he would need to kill his parents to inherit their money, because as he states, it was easier than telling them the truth about flunking out of college. What a typical millennial?! (Honestly, no offense to my millennial readers, he just fits the stereotype perfectly):
“It wasn’t really the thought of upsetting them, I guess it was the thought of losing a vehicle, losing a place to live, losing fancy custom shoes and junk like that,” Donald said. (What a spoiled brat?!)
Donald, trying to make off like he is this dumb-ass, admits to typing up a suicide letter supposedly written by his mom. In the letter he glorifies himself like any good psychopath would, how he is such a treasured son.
But he is not done.
He admits to planning these murders during spring break because his “graduation” was approaching. He started going to gun ranges to practice. He stole his mother’s gun and loaded it with the exact amount of bullets you would need for his “murder/suicide” plan with is mother as the shooter. He had been producing fake report cards from the school and continued to. He had everyone fooled.
The cops who interrogated him have said that he showed no emotion whatsoever after reiterating his story. He was cold and shocked that he didn’t feel anything after killing his stepfather.
In 2014, Donald was convicted of the first degree murder of his stepfather, Mark, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The irony is that even though he tried to kill his mother, she defended him at the trial saying that he was such a good boy growing up. She even went as far as to use the insurance money she got from Mark’s death to hire a lawyer for her son! I understand sticking by your child but he murdered your husband and then you took the victim’s money to pay for the guilty’s lawyer?! Just wrong.
In 2016, Donald appealed his case taking it all the way up to the West Virginia Supreme Court. In some not-so-shattering news, they denied his appeal.
Donald’s mother died not long after his sentence from cancer, an illness she had been suffering from for a while. There is no one left to visit him as the rest of the family has cut their ties. He will die in prison alone…
… as the man who “didn’t have the faculties to do it.”
He has never shown any remorse.