Sleeping Doll by Deaver, Jeffery
‘SON OF MANSON’ FOUND GUILTY IN CROYTON FAMILY MURDERS
SALINAS, CALIFORNIA—Daniel Raymond Pell, 35, was convicted today on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of manslaughter by a Monterey County jury after only five hours of deliberations.
“Justice has been done,” lead prosecutor James J. Reynolds told reporters after the verdict was announced. “This is an extremely dangerous man, who committed horrendous crimes.”
Pell became known as the “Son of Manson” because of the parallels between his life and that of convicted murderer Charles Manson, who in 1969 was responsible for the ritualistic slayings of the actress Sharon Tate and several other individuals in Southern California. Police found many books and articles about Manson in Pell’s house following his arrest.
The murder convictions were for the May 7 deaths of William Croyton, his wife and two of their three children in Carmel, Calif., 120 miles south of San Francisco. The manslaughter charge arose from the death of James Newberg, 24, who lived with Pell and accompanied him to the Croyton house the night of the murders. The prosecutor asserted that Newberg initially intended to assist in the murders but was then killed by Pell after he changed his mind.
Croyton, 56, was a wealthy electrical engineer and computer innovator. His Cupertino, Calif., company, in the heart of Silicon Valley, produces state-of-the-art programs that are found in much of the world’s most popular personal computer software.
Because of Pell’s interest in Manson, there was speculation that the killings had ideological overtones, as did the murders for which Manson was convicted, but robbery was the most likely reason for the break-in, Reynolds said. Pell has dozens of prior convictions for shoplifting, burglary and robbery, dating back to his teens.
One child survived the attack, a daughter, Theresa, 9. Pell overlooked the girl, who was in her bed asleep and hidden by her toys. Because of this, she became known as the “Sleeping Doll.”
Like Charles Manson, the criminal he admired, Pell exuded a dark charisma and attracted a group of devoted and fanatical followers, whom he called his “Family”—a term borrowed from the Manson clan—and over whom he exercised absolute control. At the time of the Croyton murders this group included Newberg and three women, all living together in a shabby house in Seaside, north of Monterey, Calif. They are Rebecca Sheffield, 26, Linda Whitfield, 20, and Samantha McCoy, 19. Whitfield is the daughter of Lyman Whitfield, president and CEO of Santa Clara Bank and Trust, headquartered in Cupertino, the fourth largest banking chain in the state.
The women were not charged in the deaths of the Croytons or Newberg but were convicted of multiple counts of larceny, trespass, fraud and receiving stolen property. Whitfield was also convicted of hampering an investigation, perjury and destroying evidence. As part of a plea bargain, Sheffield and McCoy were sentenced to three years in prison, Whitfield to four and a half.
Pell’s behavior at trial also echoed Charles Manson’s. He would sit motionless at the defense table and stare at jurors and witnesses in apparent attempts to intimidate them. There were reports that he believed he had psychic powers. The defendant was removed once from the courtroom after a witness broke down under his gaze.
The jury begins sentencing deliberations tomorrow. Pell could get the death penalty.
The interrogation began like any other.
Kathryn Dance entered the interview room and found the forty-three-year-old man sitting at a metal table, shackled, looking up at her closely. Subjects always did this, of course, though never with such astonishing eyes. Their color was a blue unlike sky or ocean or famous gems.
“Good morning,” she said, sitting down across from him.
“And to you,” replied Daniel Pell, the man who eight years ago had knifed to death four members of a family for reasons he’d never shared. His voice was soft.
A slight smile on his bearded face, the small, sinewy man sat back, relaxed. His head, covered with long, gray-black hair, was cocked to the side. While most jailhouse interrogations were accompanied by a jingling sound-track of handcuff chains as subjects tried to prove their innocence with broad, predictable gestures, Daniel Pell sat perfectly still.
To Dance, a specialist in interrogation and kinesics—body language—Pell’s demeanor and posture suggested caution, but also confidence and, curiously, amusement. He wore an orange jumpsuit, stenciled with “Capitola Correctional Facility” on the chest and “Inmate” unnecessarily decorating the back.
At the moment, though, Pell and Dance were not in Capitola but, rather, a secure interview room at the county courthouse in Salinas, forty miles away.
Pell continued his examination. First, he took in Dance’s own eyes—a green complementary to his blue