American Monster Premiered ‘Stages of Grief’ on Investigation Discovery: Dennis Dawley & Brandita Taliano Murdered Joan Dawley for Cash (July 8, 2018)


In suburban California, an intruder brutally attacks and kills Joan Dawley. As the Dawley family grieves, it’s up to LAPD detectives to crack the case. Secret home movies uncover a shocking tale of deceit, and a monster lurking behind the scenes. -Stages of Grief, American Monster (Investigation Discovery)

Air Force retiree Dennis Dawley, 61, with the help of prostitute and mistress, Brandita Taliano, bludgeoned to death his wife Joan Dawley of 35 years for financial gain in Van Nuys, California. Joan wanted a divorce and Dennis and Brandita wanted her inheritance money. The 1991 case went cold for years until DNA technology under Joan’s fingernails yielded a match to Brandita Taliano. Both Dennis and Brandita were charged with murder, conspiracy & solicitation and faced the death penalty. On April 15, 1997, a California jury sentenced Dawley and Taliano to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The pair were spared the death penalty because they didn’t have any prior violent felony records and the jury heard the emotional pleas from Dawley’s daughters.

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.


There’s an old saying that a burden shared is a burden halved. But when people team up to commit murder, the weight of their guilt remains just as heavy. Investigators must rely on forensic science to capture partners in crime. -Partners in Crime, New Detectives (Season 5, Episode 2)


Preview: Brandita Taliano of Los Angeles, California wanted to live the high life. -Deadly Women, Investigation Discovery


Seeking freedom from his controlling wife, Joan, Dennis Hawley begins seeing drug-addicted prostitute Brandita Taliano and supporting her financially. -Female Killers (Deadly Women)


Being the ‘other woman’ is a lonely life. Some turn rejection into rage. A call girl craved the high life, a teen mom eradicated her rival, and a lesbian love affair ripped a family apart. These Deadly Women refused to play ‘Second Best’. -Deadly Women, Investigation Discovery

Related Links:
Murder Suspects’ Trip Tipped Off Police : Slaying: Widower visited Las Vegas with mistress two days after his wife’s death. The pair are now charged in the killing. (1997)
American Monster: Meet Dennis Dawley – Air Force Vet, Golf Pro & Brutal Wife Killer
Man, 61, Testifies in Wife’s 1991 Slaying (1997)
Husband, Former Mistress Get Life in Wife’s Slaying (1997)
BRANDITA TALIANO, Plaintiff, v. D. L. JOHNSON, et al., Defendant. | United States District Court, E.D. California. | May 14, 2014
The New Detectives: Season 5 – Ep 2 “Partners in Crime”
Mistress Kills Her Lover’s Wife to Escape | Deadly Women (S8, E10, ID)
They Killed His Wife Then Decided To Go On A Las Vegas Holiday | Deadly Women
Second Best | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (Season 8, Episode 10)
Brandita Taliano Documentary | Female Killers (Deadly Women)
Stages of Grief | American Monster | Investigation Discovery (Season 3, Episode 1)
Psycho For Love: Dennis Dawley and his mistress, Brandita Taliano, killed his wife, Joan Dawley for the money
Monstresses: Katie Belflower & Brandita Taliano (Season 1: Ep. 2) (2013)
Killer Call Girl: The True Story of Brandita Taliano by Greta Harris (book)

Army Spouse Dana Mackay Found Murdered in Virginia Home; SSG John Mackay, Nicole Houchin, Nace Houchin, & Greg Crawford Confessed to Crime (2013)

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Dana Mackay, Army Spouse, Virginia

Army spouse Dana Mackay, 42, was found murdered in her Williamsburg home in Virginia on July 27, 2013. The intruders entered Dana’s home and snuck into her bedroom in the middle of the night; she was bludgeoned to death by a blunt instrument in the midst of sleeping. She died from multiple blunt force trauma. A concerned neighbor found Dana nude on the floor next to her bed; there was blood everywhere. Initially investigators thought the homicide occurred after a sexual assault. But after further investigation, authorities would learn that Dana’s husband, John Mackay, 45, and his lover, Nicole Houchin, 37, planned the murder because Dana didn’t want a divorce. John admitted to investigators that he wanted a divorce from Dana but she refused and threatened to report his affair to his commanding officer if he didn’t stop. John was a Staff Sergeant (SSG) stationed at Fort Eustis in Virginia and adultery was a crime punishable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). John did not want to risk his long standing career and apparently wanted to be with Nicole Houchin, not Dana.

John and Nicole elicited the help of Nicole’s Army husband, Nace Houchin, 35, who was also stationed at Fort Eustis, and Gregory Crawford who worked with John and Nicole at an Auto-Zone store in Williamsburg, Virginia. John Mackay promised both Nace Houchin and Gregory Crawford twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) if they would kill Dana. Did John expect a hefty pay-out from a life insurance plan on his wife? Did John promise to pay the deadly duo as soon as the money hit his bank account? John wanted the easy way out so he could be with Nicole. Dana Mackay didn’t want a divorce from John; she wanted to save the four year marriage. And although Dana innocently threatened to report John’s adulterous affair to his commander, how was she to know that it would be a motive for murder? John Mackay wanted to save his career and be with his new girlfriend. John Mackay, Nicole Houchin, and Nace Houchin confessed to the crime and pleaded guilty to first degree murder. All three were sentenced to life in prison. Gregory Crawford confessed to the crime and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder; he was sentenced to 20 years in prison with three years suspended (17).

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John Mackay, Nicole Houchin (Top); Nace Houchin, Gregory Crawford (Bottom) Photo Courtesy of WAVY.com

Related Links:
Justice for Dana
Woman, 42, found dead inside Williamsburg home
Va. sergeant confesses to Army wife’s murder plot
Staff sergeant didn’t think military mistress would murder wife
Fort Eustis soldier confesses to plotting with mistress to murder wife
Williamsburg man, girlfriend arrested in wife’s death
New details released in deadly love triangle case
Full jailhouse interview with husband charged in wife’s murder
Third person charged in Williamsburg woman’s death
Fourth suspect arrested in murder-for-hire case
Cheating Wife Hires Own Husband To Kill Her Lover’s Spouse
Dates set for Patterson murder trial in Virginia
Fort Eustis soldier, mistress plead guilty to wife’s 2013 murder
Ex-soldier Nace Houchin pleads guilty to 2013 slaying of Dana Mackay
Three plead guilty in JCC murder-for-hire plot
Third Man Pleads Guilty in Seasons Trace Murder-For-Hire Scheme
Fourth Man Pleads Guilty in Seasons Trace Murder-for-Hire Scheme
Four sentenced in murder for hire plot
4 sentenced in James City County murder-for-hire case
Four sentenced in JCC murder-for-hire of Dana Mackay
Analysis of a murder suspect
Trial Tracker with Pat LaLama: Seven Deadly Sins Edition
Nicole Houchin and John Mackay | Snapped: Killer Couples (Oxygen)
Nicole Houchin and John Mackay | Snapped: Killer Couples, Season 6 (Amazon)
Sick and Twisted | Married with Secrets (ID on web)
Sick and Twisted | Married with Secrets (ID on YouTube)


Dana MacKay is found viciously beaten to death while her husband is out of town. One suspect comes to mind: a woman who’s been stalking Dana for the last month. But it will take a cellphone with X-rated text messages to unravel this mystery. -Married with Secrets

Air Force Retiree Dennis Dawley & Mistress Brandita Taliano Sentenced to Life in Prison, No Parole for the 1991 Bludgeoning Death of Joan Dawley in California (April 15, 1997)

Full Episode: Seeking freedom from his controlling wife, Dennis Hawley begins seeing drug-addicted prostitute Brandita Taliano and supporting her financially. In 1993, when Joan receives an inheritance and makes plans to divorce, Dennis, fearing financial ruin, enlists his lover to help murder his wife. -Second Best, Deadly Women (S8, E10)

Air Force retiree Dennis Dawley, 61, with the help of prostitute and mistress, Brandita Taliano, bludgeoned to death his wife Joan Dawley of 35 years for financial gain in Van Nuys, California. Joan wanted a divorce and Dennis and Brandita wanted her inheritance money. The 1991 case went cold for years until DNA technology under Joan’s fingernails yielded a match to Brandita Taliano. Both Dennis and Brandita were charged with murder, conspiracy & solicitation and faced the death penalty. On April 15, 1997, a California jury sentenced Dawley and Taliano to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The pair were spared the death penalty because they didn’t have any prior violent felony records and the jury heard the emotional pleas from Dawley’s daughters.

Investigation Discovery:

Full Episode: There’s an old saying that a burden shared is a burden halved. But when people team up to commit murder, the weight of their guilt remains just as heavy. Investigators must rely on forensic science to capture partners in crime. -Partners in Crime, New Detectives (S5, E2)

Preview: Brandita Taliano of Los Angeles, California wanted to live the high life. -Second Best, Deadly Women (S8, E10)

ID Go: Being the ‘other woman’ is a lonely life. Some turn rejection into rage. A call girl craved the high life, a teen mom eradicated her rival, and a lesbian love affair ripped a family apart. These Deadly Women refused to play ‘Second Best’. -Second Best, Deadly Women (S8, E10)

ID Go: In suburban California, an intruder brutally attacks and kills Joan Dawley. As the Dawley family grieves, it’s up to LAPD detectives to crack the case. Secret home movies uncover a shocking tale of deceit, and a monster lurking behind the scenes. -Stages of Grief, American Monster (S3, E1)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
Murder Suspects’ Trip Tipped Off Police : Slaying: Widower visited Las Vegas with mistress two days after his wife’s death. The pair are now charged in the killing. (1997)
American Monster: Meet Dennis Dawley – Air Force Vet, Golf Pro & Brutal Wife Killer
Man, 61, Testifies in Wife’s 1991 Slaying (1997)
Husband, Former Mistress Get Life in Wife’s Slaying (1997)
BRANDITA TALIANO, Plaintiff, v. D. L. JOHNSON, et al., Defendant. | United States District Court, E.D. California. | May 14, 2014
The New Detectives: Season 5 – Ep 2 “Partners in Crime”
Mistress Kills Her Lover’s Wife to Escape | Deadly Women (S8, E10)
They Killed His Wife Then Decided To Go On A Las Vegas Holiday | Deadly Women
Second Best | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (S8, E10)
Brandita Taliano Documentary | Female Killers (Deadly Women)
Stages of Grief | American Monster | Investigation Discovery (S3, E1)
American Monster Premiered ‘Stages of Grief’ on Investigation Discovery: Dennis Dawley & Brandita Taliano Murdered Joan Dawley for Cash (July 8, 2018)
Psycho For Love: Dennis Dawley and his mistress, Brandita Taliano, killed his wife, Joan Dawley for the money
Monstresses: Katie Belflower & Brandita Taliano (Season 1: Ep. 2) (2013)
Killer Call Girl: The True Story of Brandita Taliano by Greta Harris (book)