“We were all into evil…”
By Robert A. Waters
On April 10, 1994, just before 11:00 p.m., four teens entered the Dari Mart convenience store on Royal Avenue in Eugene, Oregon. Michael James Hayward, 19, Jason Van Brumwell, 18, Johl Dawson Brock, 19, and Daniel Rabago, 16, looked like regular customers.
Employee Frances Wall, 28, was in the back while Donna Ream, also 28, stood at the counter. It was closing time and they were putting the finishing touches on their day. Wall had a husband and four children waiting at home. She loved music and gardening.
In State vs Hayward, the court affirmed that the young men carried “a dumbbell bar, a thin metal bar about two feet long with one pointed end, a chisel-type hammer and a knife.” The teens had smoked joints and listened to death metal music all day. Rabago later testified that “we were all into evil and we were all pretty much deathers.” He described a “deather” as an individual with a lot of hate inside and one who embraces “the morbid things of life.” Running out of weed, the teens decided to rob a store so they could purchase more.
Court documents state that “Hayward, followed by Brock, went to the back of the store. Brumwell and Rabago remained in the front. Brumwell, holding the dumbbell bar over his head and emitting a deep growl, ran toward Ream, who was standing behind the check-out counter…Ream jumped back in fright. Brumwell said he was just joking and asked her to give him money in the cash register. Ream did so.”
Brumwell and Rabago walked toward the back through a maze of aisles, past shelves filled with candy, pastries and other groceries. There they encountered Mrs. Wall stocking the cooler.
The court described what happened next: “Hayward struck Wall in the back of the head with the pointed, thin metal bar, knocking her to the ground. Wall attempted to protect her head from more blows by putting her arms in front of her face. [Hayward] struck her on the head with the bar five or six more times, striking her as hard as he could. The blows shattered Wall’s skull. Brock left the store, drove his car some 50 yards away and waited for the others to come out. Meanwhile, Brumwell handed Rabago the dumbbell bar and told him to watch Ream while he joined Hayward in the back room. At some point, [Rabago] shoved the pointed bar completely through Wall’s skull. She died at the scene.”
Hayward, Brumwell and Rabago then forced Ream into a back room. There they used the dumbbell bar to strike her repeatedly. Medical staff later said she’d been hit 50 times. As she continued to try to defend herself, Brumwell asked, “Why don’t you just die, bitch?” Brumwell then shoved the bar into her mouth, knocking out several teeth.
The court stated that “sometime during the attack on Ream, the young men heard the bell that rings in the back room when someone comes in the front door. They stopped beating Ream and left the store. Ream threw herself against the bathroom door to close it. When she heard a boy’s voice in the front of the store, she called to him to call the police. Then Ream ran from the store to a house across the street and collapsed on the floor when the residents let her in. A large portion of her scalp was torn off by the blows to her head, a disk in her neck was herniated, she lost almost half of the blood in her body, and she suffered permanent damage to her arms and hands. Nonetheless, Ream never lost consciousness, and some months later she was able to identify photographs of her attackers.”
Meanwhile, the teens escaped with $30 in cash and 200 Oregon lottery tickets.
It took investigators seven months to track down the killers. Once the teens cashed in the winning lottery tickets, police identified Hayward (who had signed his real name on the back). Under interrogation, he cracked and led detectives to the others.
At trial, Hayward testified that although they weren’t satanists, they believed that “God is weak and Satan is strong.” He showed no remorse for his part in the brutal attacks on the women and was convicted of robbery, kidnapping and first-degree murder. In the liberal state of Oregon, jurors sentenced hm to death.
Daniel Rabago, a juvenile at the time of the crimes, turned state’s evidence and testified against his cohorts. He pled guilty to two counts of felony murder and was sentenced to twelve years. He served only nine. Dan Wall, Frances Wall’s husband, complained to reporters about the early release. He said his children, 14 and 12, were “fearful that [Rabago’s] release will make it more difficult to get on with their lives.”
Jason Brumwell was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to life without parole. Thirteen years into his sentence, Brumwell and a second inmate murdered another prisoner. For that crime, he received a death sentence. However, the courts overturned the verdict, reinstating his original life sentence.
Johl Dawson Brock, the getaway driver, was released from prison in 2002, just eight years after the murder.