Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Darren O'Neall

The Evergreen State

Darren Dee O'Neall, 27, arrived virtually unnoticed in the rugged Twin Peaks backwoods of Washington State on November 3, 1986, an unseasonably warm Monday.

Known as a drifter to his family, friends and law enforcement agencies across the country, O'Neall had traveled extensively throughout the United States. As the product of an Army household, his travels had begun in his youth and continued un­til his father, Darrell, finally retired from the military and settled with Darren's mother, Christa, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. But for reasons, dark, maca­bre reasons that no one yet fully understood, Darren O'Neall continued to travel in his adult life, out of necessity in most cases in order to stay one step ahead of the law. 

Darren O'Neall (Mugshot Colorado Springs Police Dept.)
Darren O'Neall
(Mugshot Colorado Springs Police

On the move almost constantly, he never remained in one location for very long. As a result, he did little bonding with others and knew few peo­ple whom he could call friends.  When he chose to associate with anyone, he did so mostly with street people, "animals of the street" as O'Neall himself was known to call them.  He didn't form alliances out of a yearning for companionship but out of a need to score illicit drugs or to launch a new scam of some sort.

Mostly, however, he made contacts in the streets because he blended in so smoothly with what he termed "society's rubbish," which is how he sometimes thought of himself, and because he knew that such people would be the least likely ever to turn him in to the law.  He was gutsy and daring, which should not be construed as bravery or gallantry but instead should be understood in the vein that he would do what he had to do to get what he wanted.  In that sense, some would say, he had more nerve than a government mule.  But he was a loner for the most part, afraid to face life responsibly and on the right side of the law, and that seemed to suit him just fine.

Upon his arrival in the "Evergreen State," O'Neall promptly contacted an old high school friend who, O'Neall learned, had also recently moved into the area.  While renewing their "friendship," the old friend convinced O'Neall in short order that life and women were indeed good there and that he should rent an apartment and stay, too.  O'Neall, apparently believing his friend and taking him at his word decided to try out the area for a while.  After settling into a shabby duplex unit in Puyallup, a small community of 17,200 residents, he quickly obtained work as a truck driver in nearby Tacoma.

Although his propensity for carrying out senseless acts of violence was present early in his life and began to manifest itself during a period of enlistment with the U.S. Army, no one, not even O'Neall, really knew what he was capable of doing.  He was literally a ticking time bomb waiting to explode but, unfortunately, nobody knew when, where, or by what means the detonation would occur.


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