John Roderick Dungan was charged with three counts of murder in connection with the three people killed when he reportedly swerved his Camaro into the lane of oncoming traffic on Highway 154 nearly two weeks ago. Dungan, 28, was on probation at the time for felony stalking charges and had been placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold earlier in the year after he’d been found to be in possession of 16 handguns, shotguns, rifles, and about 20,000 rounds of ammunition, which had been stashed at his parents’ home, where he resided. Armored plates were found in his car as well. Precipitating the welfare check had been suicidal text Dungan had sent to relatives living in the Bay Area.
Killed in the crash were Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley and her two children, Lucienne and Desmond Bley Gleason, ages two years old and four months old, respectively. The murder counts against Dungan name each of his three victims, lists their ages, and describes each of them as “a human being.” To date, it remains uncertain what evidence prosecutors are relying upon to charge Dungan with murder.
At the time of the crash, investigators stated Dungan’s car swerved into Bley’s car, a Chevy Volt, for “unknown reasons.” At the time of the crash, city police officers were on their way to Dungan’s residence on the belief he might pose a possible suicide risk. Dungan was supposed to have been held in a psychiatric facility in town to which he’d been released from a locked-down facility in Encinas. Dungan had also been ordered to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet to ensure compliance. At the time of the deadly crash, it’s not clear Dungan was wearing the bracelet.
Sources close to the case indicate Dungan had been highly delusional earlier in the year, that he thought he was god, and that nothing could kill him. Like Elliot Rodger — the Isla Vista mass murderer for whom Dungan expressed great admiration and kinship — Dungan had expressed anger and confusion that women wanted little to do with him. He was charged with felony stalking because of repeated contacts he’d made — and attempted to make — with a woman who’d broken off relations after one date. She had expressed concern about Dungan to relatives and authorities. When the county’s co-response team first contacted Dungan earlier this year, they made sure he was placed in an involuntary 5150 hold — meaning he posed an imminent threat to himself or others — because doing so would legally prevent him from recovering his firearms for a period of three years. The felony stalking charges were filed, in part, because, if upheld, they would have prevented Dungan from ever retrieving his confiscated weapons.
Authorities at the time were impressed with Dungan’s high degree of intelligence and volatility. His guns were purchased legally, though a couple had been illegally modified to achieve the rapid-firing feature common to semi-automatic and automatic weapons.
Dungan will be arraigned in court either Thursday or Friday. Prosecutors are asking that bail be set at $2 million.