Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Darren O'Neall


On Wednesday, January 4, 1989, during jury selection, O'Neall abruptly and to the surprise of everyone, announced that he wanted to plead guilty to murdering Robin Smith.  To Edna's dismay, after being robbed of the right to a trial in her daughter's death, O'Neall received a life sentence, which in Washington amounted to a maximum sentence of 27 years and 9 months. He is now serving his time at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.  O'Neall can, however, be released after serving as few as 18 years with time off for good behavior.  The police felt cheated, and Edna was of course disappointed in the system because she had wanted him to stand trial and was pushing the prosecutors to seek the death penalty.  She viewed O'Neall's actions of pleading guilty as an attempt to keep the sordid details of his crimes from becoming public knowledge.

In May of the following year, O'Neall was brought to Portland, Oregon, to face trial for the kidnapping and rape of the 14-year-old girl, to which he maintained his innocence. After attempting to shift the blame onto the girl for what had happened to her, he was convicted of most of the charges.

At his sentencing hearing in August 1990, defense lawyer Scott Raivio claimed that there was a connection between O'Neall's criminal history and his abuse of cocaine and methamphetamine.  Whenever he is away from drugs, said Raivio, O'Neall has "polite middle class values."  Despite Raivio's efforts, O'Neall was sentenced to 135 years in prison on a variety of charges stemming from the abduction and rape of the teenager, and Judge Kimberly Frankel ordered that the sentence run consecutively to the life sentence he had received for the murder of Robin Smith in Washington.

To date, the whereabouts of Wendy Aughe remains unknown, though investigators feel certain that she fell prey to O'Neall's murderous impulses.  Similarly, the Lia Szubert murder remains on the books due to a lack of physical evidence linking O'Neall to the crime, though detectives are equally certain that he killed her, too.  There are also other unsolved homicides in a number of states that authorities believe he may have committed.  O'Neall has expressed no remorse for any of his crimes, and reportedly has resigned himself to spending the rest of his life in prison.


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