SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man is scheduled to face trial tomorrow for the 1988 cold case special circumstances murder for strangling a woman to death during the commission of a rape. Daniel Edward McDermott, 47, Buena Park, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a rape. Opening statements are scheduled to begin tomorrow, Thursday, June 30, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Circumstances of 1988 Murder
At the time of the crime, McDermott During the early morning hours on Jan. 11, 1988, McDermott, then 19 years old, is accused of entering the home of 18-year-old Gehmine Chandler and forcibly raping the victim. During the rape, McDermott is accused of strangling Chandler to death. At approximately 5:30 a.m., the victim's father discovered Chandler's body and called the Buena Park Police Department (BPPD), who investigated the murder. Forensic investigators collected swabs from the victim and the crime scene and booked them into evidence. The swabs were examined for DNA and uploaded into a DNA index system but the case went cold.
Re-opening of Cold Case
On Feb. 16, 2009, BPPD and Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Investigators reopened the case and re-interviewed family members and friends who had been named in previous police reports from 1998 in the Buena Park area.
On March 29, 2010, OCDA Investigators conducted a phone interview with McDermott. At the time, McDermott was residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
After conducting additional interviews, OCDA and BPPD investigators determined that McDermott's DNA had not been obtained. On Oct. 23, 2012, OCDA and BPPD Investigators traveled to New Mexico to obtain McDermott's DNA sample. McDermott agreed to come into the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) station for a follow-up interview with a BPPD detective and submitted a DNA saliva sample.
At approximately 1:00 p.m. on Oct. 27, 2012, the Orange County Crime Lab completed their tests on the DNA sample and confirmed that it matched the unidentified semen DNA sample recovered from the sexual assault kit taken from the victim in 1988. APD officers arrested McDermott the next day.
BPPD and OCDA investigated this case. Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 12CF3159 / June 29, 2016