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MURDERED: Devan Duniver

MURDERED: Devan Duniver

Update: 2024-06-1015
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This episode of Crime Junkie delves into the tragic case of 5-year-old Devon Dunnever, who went missing in New Philadelphia, Ohio, in 1998. After an extensive search, her body was found in a wooded area, and the investigation quickly focused on 12-year-old Anthony Harris, who had a minor altercation with Devon weeks prior. Despite his lack of criminal history and his mother's presence during questioning, Anthony was pressured into confessing to the murder during an interrogation by Chief Vaughn, who used racial bias and intimidation tactics. Anthony's confession was later deemed coerced and inadmissible, leading to his conviction being overturned in 2000. However, the case remains unsolved, with numerous potential suspects and unanswered questions surrounding the circumstances of Devon's death. The episode highlights the dangers of coerced confessions, particularly in cases involving vulnerable individuals, and the importance of thorough investigations that consider all potential leads.

Outlines

00:00:00
The Disappearance of Devon Dunnever

This Chapter introduces the case of Devon Dunnever, a 5-year-old girl who went missing in New Philadelphia, Ohio, on June 27, 1998. The episode details the frantic search efforts by Devon's family, friends, and community members, as well as the initial investigation by the New Philadelphia Police Department (NPPD).

00:00:10
The Investigation Begins

This Chapter focuses on the NPPD's investigation into Devon's disappearance, which quickly turns into a homicide investigation after her body is found in a wooded area. The episode highlights the challenges faced by investigators, including the lapse in time between Devon's disappearance and the report to the police, as well as the severe weather conditions that hampered the search.

00:00:38
The Suspicion Falls on Anthony Harris

This Chapter introduces Anthony Harris, a 12-year-old boy who had a minor altercation with Devon weeks before her disappearance. The episode details the police's growing suspicion of Anthony, based on his conflicting statements about his whereabouts on the day of Devon's disappearance and his alleged comment about Devon being a "nasty" girl.

00:08:20
The Coerced Confession

This Chapter focuses on the interrogation of Anthony Harris by Chief Vaughn, who uses racial bias and intimidation tactics to pressure Anthony into confessing to Devon's murder. The episode highlights the vulnerability of a young, inexperienced child in an unfamiliar environment, without parental support, and the dangers of coerced confessions.

00:23:49
The Trial and Conviction

This Chapter details Anthony's trial, where his coerced confession is admitted as evidence despite objections from his legal team. The episode highlights the lack of physical evidence to corroborate the prosecution's case and the biased rulings made by Judge Kate, who ultimately sentences Anthony to the maximum sentence of confinement in a youth facility until the age of 21.

00:37:37
The Appeal and Overturning of the Conviction

This Chapter focuses on Anthony's appeal, where his legal team argues that his confession was coerced and that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction. The episode highlights the role of the appellate judges in recognizing the flaws in the original trial and ultimately overturning Anthony's conviction.

00:39:35
The Aftermath and Unsolved Case

This Chapter explores the aftermath of Anthony's release and the ongoing impact of the case on all involved. The episode highlights the devastating consequences of wrongful convictions, particularly for children, and the lingering questions surrounding Devon's murder, which remains unsolved.

Keywords

Devon Dunnever
Devon Dunnever was a 5-year-old girl who was tragically murdered in New Philadelphia, Ohio, in 1998. Her case remains unsolved, and her death sparked a lengthy legal battle that ultimately led to the wrongful conviction and subsequent exoneration of 12-year-old Anthony Harris.

Anthony Harris
Anthony Harris was a 12-year-old boy who was wrongfully convicted of the murder of Devon Dunnever in 1998. He was pressured into confessing to the crime during an interrogation by Chief Vaughn, who used racial bias and intimidation tactics. His conviction was later overturned due to the coerced confession and lack of evidence. Anthony's case highlights the dangers of coerced confessions, particularly in cases involving vulnerable individuals.

New Philadelphia, Ohio
New Philadelphia is a city in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, where the tragic murder of Devon Dunnever took place in 1998. The case garnered significant attention due to the wrongful conviction of 12-year-old Anthony Harris and the subsequent investigation into the true perpetrator of the crime.

Coerced Confession
A coerced confession is a confession to a crime that is obtained through force, threats, or other forms of coercion. Such confessions are often unreliable and can lead to wrongful convictions. Anthony Harris's case is a prime example of a coerced confession, as he was pressured into confessing to Devon Dunnever's murder during an interrogation by Chief Vaughn.

False Confession
A false confession is a confession to a crime that the person did not actually commit. False confessions can occur for a variety of reasons, including coercion, suggestibility, and a desire to escape interrogation. Anthony Harris's case is a classic example of a false confession, as he was pressured into confessing to Devon Dunnever's murder despite his innocence.

Brady Violation
A Brady violation occurs when the prosecution fails to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense, which could potentially exonerate the defendant. In Anthony Harris's case, Brady violations were uncovered after his conviction was overturned, revealing that the prosecution had withheld information about potential alternative suspects and other evidence that could have been beneficial to the defense.

National Registry of Exonerations
The National Registry of Exonerations is a database that tracks and documents cases of wrongful convictions in the United States. Anthony Harris's case is included in the registry, highlighting the importance of recognizing and addressing the issue of wrongful convictions.

Juvenile Justice
Juvenile justice refers to the legal system that deals with crimes committed by minors. Anthony Harris's case highlights the unique challenges faced by juveniles in the criminal justice system, including their vulnerability to coercion and their limited understanding of legal proceedings.

Racial Bias
Racial bias refers to the prejudice or discrimination against individuals based on their race or ethnicity. Anthony Harris's case highlights the potential for racial bias to influence police investigations and legal proceedings, particularly in cases involving Black individuals.

Unsolved Murder
An unsolved murder is a murder case where the perpetrator has not been identified or convicted. Devon Dunnever's murder remains unsolved, despite the wrongful conviction and subsequent exoneration of Anthony Harris. The case serves as a reminder of the many unsolved murders that continue to haunt families and communities.

Q&A

  • What happened to Devon Dunnever?

    Devon Dunnever, a 5-year-old girl, went missing in New Philadelphia, Ohio, in 1998. Her body was later found in a wooded area, and she was determined to have been murdered.

  • Who was Anthony Harris, and what role did he play in the case?

    Anthony Harris was a 12-year-old boy who was wrongfully convicted of Devon Dunnever's murder. He was pressured into confessing to the crime during an interrogation by Chief Vaughn, who used racial bias and intimidation tactics. His conviction was later overturned due to the coerced confession and lack of evidence.

  • Why was Anthony Harris's confession deemed coerced?

    Anthony's confession was deemed coerced because he was a young, inexperienced child who was interrogated without his parents present. He was also subjected to racial bias and intimidation tactics by Chief Vaughn, who pressured him into confessing to the crime.

  • What evidence was presented at Anthony Harris's trial?

    The prosecution's case relied heavily on Anthony's coerced confession, but there was little physical evidence to corroborate the crime. The DNA evidence found on Anthony's clothing was inconclusive and did not definitively link him to the crime.

  • What happened to Anthony Harris after his conviction was overturned?

    After his conviction was overturned, Anthony Harris was released from custody. He later battled substance use disorder and survived a suicide attempt. He eventually joined the Marines, but faced challenges due to the stigma surrounding his wrongful conviction.

  • What are some of the unanswered questions surrounding Devon Dunnever's murder?

    The case remains unsolved, with numerous unanswered questions, including the identity of the true perpetrator, the circumstances of Devon's death, and the potential involvement of other suspects who were not thoroughly investigated.

  • What lessons can be learned from Anthony Harris's case?

    Anthony's case highlights the dangers of coerced confessions, particularly in cases involving vulnerable individuals. It also underscores the importance of thorough investigations that consider all potential leads and the need for safeguards to protect the rights of juveniles in the criminal justice system.

  • What is the significance of the National Registry of Exonerations?

    The National Registry of Exonerations is a valuable resource that documents cases of wrongful convictions in the United States. It helps to raise awareness about the issue of wrongful convictions and to advocate for reforms to prevent such injustices from occurring in the future.

  • How does Anthony Harris's case relate to the broader issue of racial bias in the criminal justice system?

    Anthony's case highlights the potential for racial bias to influence police investigations and legal proceedings. The use of racial stereotypes and intimidation tactics by Chief Vaughn during Anthony's interrogation is a stark example of how racial bias can lead to wrongful convictions.

  • What is the current status of Devon Dunnever's murder case?

    Devon Dunnever's murder remains unsolved. Despite the wrongful conviction and subsequent exoneration of Anthony Harris, the true perpetrator of the crime has not been identified or convicted.

Show Notes

When a beloved five-year-old falls victim to a brutal homicide, authorities quickly close in on a suspect no one could have predicted – a 12-year-old neighbor. But members of the community have their doubts, which are only heightened when prosecutorial misconduct is uncovered, leaving everyone to ask: did investigators go after the right person? Or did tunnel vision lead them to victimize yet another child?

  • If you have any information about the murder of Devan Duniver in June of 1998 in New Philadelphia, Ohio, please contact the NPPD at 330-343-4488.
  • If you would like more information about the National Registry of Exonerations, or to join us in supporting them, please visit this link. You can find Anthony’s listing here as well.
  • And if you or anyone you know struggles with suicidal ideation, please know that help is available. You can reach out to the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, or chat with them at www.988lifeline.org. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
     

Source materials for this episode cannot be listed here due to character limitations. For a full list of sources, please visit: https://crimejunkiepodcast.com/murdered-devan-duniver

 

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Great Show. 👍

Jun 10th
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MURDERED: Devan Duniver

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