Despite Souza feeling certain that the arrogant Dana had something to do with the heinous crime, there was nothing he could link him with that would incriminate the laid back youth. Little did Souza and his fellow detectives realise that they had just started on what would be an intensive game of ‘cat and mouse’ between them and the brilliant college graduate.
For a brainy college kid, Dana wasn’t so bright to at least fake compassion and shock at the slaughter of his own family, although ironically he offered a $50,000 reward for the killer’s capture.
However, his main concern was how to get his hands on his father’s business and assets. This cold-hearted behaviour just made Detective Souza even more suspicious. The duel between suspect and detectives was to continue for three long years as the police chased every lead they could find to catch Dana out.
One main frustrating problem for Dana was that his father’s family, mainly his three brothers, prevented their nephew from receiving any of the funds and access to his father’s wealth. This meant he had to plunder funds elsewhere, such as his grandmother’s $400,000 trust account.
In the meantime Dana continued to live life as he always had while Souza and his fellow detectives kept hot on his trail. They had Dana’s pager and ‘cloned’ his cellular phone and tapped his landline. Dana himself had kept a receipt for some candy that he bought from a grocery stall with his Amex card. He used this artefact as a means of proving a paper trail that in his eyes would exonerate him from the terrible murders. However, his retention of the receipt just made the police even more suspicious.
Another friend and former college buddy of Ewell’s, Joel Radovcich was fingered as having being involved in the murders. However, there was still little evidence the authorities could use to pin the crime on both men. Finally in 1995, three years after the killings, Dana was charged with the murder of his parents and sister.
As far as Detective Souza was concerned the main motivation was money. He saw Dana as being a callous sociopath who wasn’t prepared to wait for his inheritance which was stated in his father’s will to be distributed to his son on his 25th, 30th and 35th birthday. To add to more complications Dana Ewell's grandfather died in a basement explosion in his home in Ohio, which fire officials attributed to an unsafe gas generator.
During investigations into Dana’s involvement in his family’s deaths, it was found that he plundered his grandmother’s account leaving only $2000 out of an original fund of $400,000. Transactions took place over a three-year period and it is believed that these funds supported his and girlfriend Monica Zent’s expensive lifestyle.
Documents revealed that a $17,000 cheque was made out to her San Diego University – where ironically she was studying law – as well as $11,000 to pay for flying lessons both for Ewell and Radovcich. $200,000 went on a lawyer to support the defendant after he was arrested. Ewell also had more than twenty-four accounts in fourteen different banks, some held jointly either with his grandmother or girlfriend.
Then finally in 1995, three years after the murder scene, a breakthrough came for Detective Souza when a friend of Radovcich, Ernest Jack Ponce, provided a detailed account of the killings as described by Radovcich.