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The Many Faces of Rage
Washington state has had its share of serial killers, and this is where this tale begins, ending on the east coast. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this is where Darren Dee O’Neall really started his killing spree, I don’t think we will ever know the full story. Serial killers generally begin slowly and work up to killing others for the excitement, and he was no exception. His fatal mistake was becoming cocky, feeling all-powerful and untouchable which led to his capture. Luckily, there were also exemplary and very bright people in the citizenry as well as the law enforcement fields that also led to his final capture. One of these citizens was the mother of a victim, Edna Smith. If it was not for her, the outcome could well have been very different.
The Early Years
O’Neall was born in Albuquerque, NM February 26, 1960, next to the youngest of four children. Darren always had a problem with discipline, especially when he grew older. He was a bright boy, but only did enough to be an average student. He was a drug user, a heavy drinker, but didn’t become a problem with the law until his twenties. As an adolescent, his fits of temper and rage could be uncontrollable, which accelerated to the point of threatening to kill people. One documented incident was where he attempted to shoot a brother.
He married for a short time and fathered a son in 1981. He had a shirt stint in the army, and was honorably discharged in 1982. He finagled a story to get his son and took him to Colorado Springs away from his mother, finally granting custody to his own mother, since he couldn’t raise the boy.
On went his pathological lies and fantasy life through Louis L’Amour books. He enticed women with his manly ways, his good looks, and talk about settling down in the great outdoors and becoming self-sufficient. It took a lot of women in from Washington to the Louisiana, where violence and death prevailed. He was always one step ahead of the law, and always seemed to readily find victims wherever he went as a drifter.
Final Crime Days
His final mistake began in Harvey, LA, August 31, 1987. He boarded with a woman, eventually stealing her car and $2,000 cash. From there, he headed to Nashville, TN, where he met yet another woman. They drove to where she lived in Lakeland, FL in early September. There he became a drug dealer’s enforcer.
O’Neall was in the stolen mercury marquis from LA, and happened to attract the attention of a police officer. A short chase ensued and he blew out a tire after striking a curb. All occupants of the car were apprehended, but the plot thickened, as O’Neall was using one of his many aliases. He answered his charges in FL, then was extradited to FL, but law enforcement still had no idea who he really was.
What Cracked the Case
Due to the work of Kathleen Dremillion in the LA State Police Bureau of Identification on Feb. 3, 1988, she cracked the case wide open. She positively identified O’Neall’s fingerprints, who had been on the Ten Most Wanted List. Now his repetitive cycle of killing was finally broken.
He was finally extradited to WA to answer murder charges there, and was sentenced Feb. 6, 1989. In May on 1990, he was extradited to Portland, OR to answer kidnapping and rape charges on a 14-year-old girl that lived, the first victim that was known.
Another young woman, Wendy Aughe, was never found. O’Neall was charged only with the theft of her car. In OR, Lia Szubert’s murder didn’t have physical evidence to link him to the crime. Other homicides link O’Neall to more crimes, but no evidence. One of those is in CO.
Edna Smith and her family finally got to bury their daughter, Robin, but they had to wait a long time in order to do it. Her fiancé finally died due to grief during this fiasco. To this day, Darren O’Neall has not shown any real remorse for the violent deaths that were committed by his hands.