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Life Without Parole – A Different Story – 4 (Guest Blog By BWR)

Kansas v. Dana Chandler

First of all, Kelly is under the weather, so until further notice, Paul (@the 13JurorMD) and I (@realBWR) will be attempting to prevent you guys from going into withdrawal. I know I speak for Paul when I say that Kelly has a special gift I don’t have, and want her to know that, this Christmas, she has given me more meaningful gifts of life than I imagined a year ago. Kelly, I am praying for you and that you feel comforted by the worldwide family you now have. We are separated only by physical distance so the emotional distance is nonexistent. We all only want you to be up to writing this blog when you can. Semper Ad Meliora (“Always Towards Good Things.”)

This doesn’t exactly count as Sick F-ck Saturday. I was at my Son #1 High School holiday concert and, during intermissions/changes of choirs, got to thinking about what to write next. If you’ll forgive me, I’d like to write about 2 cases very similar to Stabby’s. Some of you may have heard of it via local coverage, “Snapped” or the like. One thing I daresay you haven’t heard is the aftermath. And that is, ultimately what I want to “sting” at the end. No peeking, stay with me to the end!

I would like to start with Dana Chandler first. Dana Chandler was a Colorado divorced woman in her 40’s. She had a teenage daughter, Hailey, and a Son, Justin. The ex-husband, Mike Cisco, moved to Kansas. He, unfortunately, clashed with daughter Hailey, which went unresolved at the time of his death. He met and fell in love with a woman named Karla Harkness after the tumultuous divorce was finalized. He was awarded sole custody of both minor children.

Dana, hearing of their marriage plans (sound familiar), became enraged. Her 2 children, now of adult age, didn’t think twice of their mother’s weekend plans. The evidence shows:
– She filled gas cans necessary to leave Colorado to Kansas and exit without a trace.
– She shut off her cell phone, making her untraceable.
– She told authorities she went camping in the Rocky Mountains, although the entrance had surveillance cameras recording front and back license plates. Hers were not recorded.
– Her landline went unanswered.
– The TV program 48 Hours hired 2 retired NYPD Homicide detectives, who strongly suspected Dana.

The crime:
Mike and Karen went gambling the night of July 6, 2001. Enraged with jealously over the impending wedding, Dana drove from Colorado (sound familiar?) and hid in their Topeka, Kansas bedroom closet drinking several bottles of wine. She was a chain-smoker, and went outside to repeatedly to smoke and discard the butts. Finally, she heard them come home. She hid in the master bedroom closet. Once asleep, she came out of the closet and shot them both 10-12 times. She left the wine bottles in the closet and the butts outside.

In light of not being detected by by the Ranger Station at the Rocky Mountain entrance, something of note was: there were rampant wildfires present when she should have been. Yet, she never mentioned them. Her daughter Hailey, convinced her mother was culpable, tape recorded their calls, to no avail. The case went cold.

10 years later, Dana moved near her sister in Oklahoma. A new District Attorney (DA) was sworn in at Topeka, KS. He was convinced Dana was responsible. They went over every piece of her story and the limited evidence. The lack of her mention of the wildfires, her explanation of the gas cans for “a helpless couple” and, filling them up when her trip was complete were one thing. The fact that she traveled from Topeka to Denver not in the linear, horizontally logistical manner, but literally in a square method, added to her lack of credibility. Ironically, one leg straight north from Topeka went over a body of water, which gave her ample opportunity to discard the gun, bloody clothes. She was out of phone range for approximately 24 hours. Sound Familiar x 3?

10 years almost to the day later, on July 25, 2011, she was arrested in Oklahoma (living with her sister) later was convicted and sentenced to, according to Her Honor – Judge Nancy Parrish, according to the Topeka Journal, to the maximum of 50 years, consecutive for each murder.

Why this case? I *honestly* think Stabby got her Eistein-y idea about going off the radar from Dana’s caper.

Edit note: Can you imagine if she had left a palm print in the closet?!

Next I will write about a similar, “If I can’t you, no other female will…..”

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28 Responses to Life Without Parole – A Different Story – 4 (Guest Blog By BWR)

  1. renaes24 says:

    Errrrrr ! Was this supposed to be the same half tale told twice?

  2. cmdm says:

    if the criminalist had been more experienced, he/she would have collected the wine bottle(s) and the cigarette butts…that would have made it easier to prosecute it as a cold case…glad she was convicted…read and saw a lot about that case…

    • BlueWhiteRed says:

      Cmdm,see Tyla’s below…similar feedback and I didn’t want to sound repetitive to both of you. Plus the Domino’s guy is due any second!

  3. Tyla says:

    Can’t believe it took 10 yrs to figure that one out – DNA on the wine bottles in the closet, DNA on the cigarette butts in the yard, and proof she was lying about where she was (due to the fire) ….. what more did the police need to arrest and convict this woman?? SMH!!

    • BlueWhiteRed says:

      Hi Cmm Tyla, I think the stumbling block was that the family threw out the winebottles before foreniscs were aware of it/them. Not excusing the police; that was just my understanding. Re the cigarette butts, I think they overlooked them. sigh.Agh. I think Hailey and her brother 100% thought their mom guilty. I’m glad they have closure, whatever that peace that gives them.

    • cmdm says:

      the wine bottle(s) and cigarette butts WERE NOT COLLECTED…thus my comment about a more experienced criminalist…the really good ones collect a lot of things without really knowing what will become important to the investigation…Dana is a monster and she thought she was going to get away with…she is exactly where she belongs…PRISON.

      • BlueWhiteRed says:

        I remember that the family found and discarded the wine bottles when the crime scene was released. Maybe not the cigs but the winebottles.

  4. That Dana Chandler was one wicked woman, wasn’t she! And probably thought she had gotten away with it. Nor remorse whatsoever. Just like someone else we know, huh?

    One more I can think of in the “If I can’t have you, no other female will…” is Betty Broderick. In JA’s case though, I actually don’t think she wanted HIM as much as she wanted to share his lifestyle! She wanted the trips, the money he was earning, the ‘respect’ he had from people (male an female!), the 5 bedroom home, wanted to be co-landlady over those who rented rooms from him, wanted the prestige that would come to whoever became ‘Mrs. Travis Alexander’!

    But I have reached the conclusion that the thing that made him SO angry with her was that although she was ‘paying him back’ for the BMW and money she owed him….it was coming from his own bank account where she had likely been helping herself to in the months before his murder! I believe he had opened an account where only she would deposit payments back to him. He said in the ‘angry texts that she’d ‘better start paying me back so you need to look for a job!’ Told her how evil she was, how much she had hurt him, even said that he was going to go to the police. Had she been doing this, even while he felt sorry for her and was paying her to clean his house? (Just think, paying her to help her and find out she’d hacked into his bank account and had been stealing him to the poor house, while LUVING him? How wicked is that?

    • By the way, please tell Kelly we all love her and miss her! I’ll be so relieved once she has this surgery. I hope she’s eating or at least drinking plenty of fluids. She lives alone and we worry about her. Please tell her how much we miss her and want her well.

  5. BlueWhiteRed says:

    Hi Judy — when I proposed these 2 cases (this and the next one, I purposely chose lesser known cases similar to Stabby’s but not as obvious as Betty’s. Her case fascinates me and encourages me to be a better spouse! Kelly is still here….just needs some time off when she gets tired and (understandably) drained by the Journey to the Gurney in Maricopa County! I’m sure she’ll chime in! Thanks as always. BWR

    • slw600 says:

      Your take on Betty would be fun. I’m from La Jolla. My mom insists he drove her to it. Ugh mom.

      • renaes24 says:

        I agree with your mom. I think she got a raw deal too. I think a lot of it maybe a generational thing.

      • BlueWhiteRed says:

        slw & renaes, I can write 2 weeks worth of Betty Broderick and. especttially, Kristin Rossum. I was stationed at Coronado, NAS North Island and 32nd Street! If you really want to hear my opinion over those trials, I will. My favorite USA duty, and I was stationed near the Court House when I was at 32nd street pier. I actually saw the Rossums once, and Caitlin Rother. If I had leave, I wanted to go to the court house, but it was a zoo.. let me know!

  6. bobbie thompson says:

    Oh my. I live in Oklahoma and never heard of this case. But I’ve said before this is the ONLY case I’ve ever followed closely. It does sound similar to JA’s. I’ve never thought she researched any BEFORE the murder, but I think she did AFTER. When she she was trapped. That murder of the preacher, I can’t think of the woman’s name. I saw the movie on lifetime and when I saw it was fact based I looked her up. Anyways, the story JA told sounded like this woman’s defense story. But I gotta say, the preacher’s wife sounded much more believable than JA.

    Get better soon Kels. And thanks BWR for helping out

    • Ruthanne says:

      I’ve never heard of any of these cases, but this is the only trial I have ever followed. I did see Dana’s name on a Snapped episode, (skimming channels) but I have never watched any of the episodes, I just look now and then to see if JA is on, because I’m curious to see what they say about her case, but I still haven’t caught her episode. LOL I always thought JA researched other cases beforehand, to find out ways to go off the grid, possible ways to avoid getting caught, plan an alibi etc…

      Her biggest downfall is hubris. She was so sure she was smarter than everyone else, that every step she took and every lie she told, thinking that covering all the details would help make her believable, just added to the impossibility of her story being true. Then inserting herself afterward! Her belief in her own genius proved how dumb she was, and ended up causing her to leave lots of clues, and behave suspiciously after the fact.

      I have never thought her to be intelligent. She picked up things from books, situations, people, and remembered them to spew back to make herself sound smart at times. Retaining knowledge/being book-smart, is not the same as being intelligent and able to think on your feet, truly master things, or figure things out on your own. You can be knowledgeable and not intelligent, which I’ll concede JA is in some areas, but it is far better to be intelligent, which she is NOT.

      Knowledge can always be gained, intelligence, in my opinion is inherent, you either have it or don’t, like common sense, (the proper scientific term for which is “practical intelligence.”). Of course it’s best to have both, or all 3 really, but if you can only have one, knowledge or intelligence, I think we all know which is best for survival. IMHO

  7. BlueWhiteRed says:

    Are you thinking of the Mary Winkler/Matthew Winkler case in TN? I thought that was a travesty. Cases like her are ones I’m interested in writing about . The similarities of JA yet handled differently due to cultural difference in how female offenders are believed, treated and FREED. If this isn’t the case, do let me know….best, BWR.

    • bobbie thompson says:

      Thats her!, ,mary winkler. She sounded innocent from what Iread

      • bobbie thompson says:

        Well not innocent…but truly abused. I can understand WHY she killed him. So if any JAII people are lurking here…go read her case. THAT is REAL abuse. See I AM capable of believing in self defense when it IS self defense

  8. Laura hickey says:

    Another great article, BWR! Sure sounds like Arias used this murder as her blueprint/plan to murder Travis, with a few unique, sic, embellishments of her own. Please tell Kelly I hope she is resting, taking good care of herself and staying warm

  9. BlueWhiteRed says:

    I’m compiling all the good wishes, botyh here and in Twitter so she can truly see all the lives she touches. So thanks for adding to the list. And re the blueprint. I have completely thought Arias got the blueprint from Dana Chandler and the case I’ll profile tomorrow when I don’t have Mr. Mom duties, lol…! Happiest of Holidays. BWR

  10. karen30036 says:

    I remember this case. She was stalking them too. Remember her jumping on the trampoline in the middle of the night and constantly driving by their house? I didn’t know she was convicted …. yea!

  11. BlueWhiteRed says:

    Hi Karen — yep, that’s the psycho Dana….gymnas wannabe!

  12. Deb says:

    Good crime synopsis, BWR! I’m intrigued by cases like these; women can be just as crazy/deranged and evil as any man. Jealousy with total disregard for another human being is almost as fucked up as terrorism, in my opinion.

    • Ruthanne says:

      I think it is terrorism really, I mean isn’t it terrorizing when someone is stalking you? You can’t live your life, you live in fear of what they may do to you or someone you know, love or even just speak to. I really think they need to take stalking much more seriously, so many of those cases end in tragedy because nothing was done before it escalated. But people also need to learn to recognize red flags AND take them seriously.

      I tell my girls all the time, just because you are a kindhearted, levelheaded person and think one way, don’t think for a minute that everyone feels or thinks the same way you do. There are some crazy people out there and you need to see every sign and take it seriously. Not to live in fear or paranoia, but stay alert and be observant and do not ignore your gut instincts. More often than not my girls disappointments come in the form of friends who turned out not to be, or people who are just plain mean or selfish. When you are not that way yourself, it can be hard to comprehend how others can be, and hard to get used to, so you aren’t always so surprised by it, while still maintaining your own positivity.

  13. BlueWhiteRed says:

    I heard one time, Deb, that women commit fewer murders, but the reason is proportionally the same, “If I can’t have you, No one can!”

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