Long Beach, California; March 3, 2014: Cain Finn Jones — previously named Carl Lynn Jenkins, and known to most people as Huck — called 911 at 8:51 a.m. He told the emergency dispatcher that his wife “was doing yoga, doing a headstand, fell, and, um, she’s bleeding from behind.” The dispatcher clarified that the back of his wife’s head was bleeding. Huck described the bleeding as “massive.” He said that he “just heard a loud crash and came running into the room,” and found his injured wife.
Minutes later, at 8:57 a.m., a Long Beach Fire Department engine company arrived at the house, followed by paramedics at 9:05 a.m.
First responders found Dana Kathleen Jones supine on the bare concrete floor of the home’s recreation room. She was 50 years old, Caucasian, 5’7″ in height, weighing around 146 pounds. The Los Angeles County Coroner would later describe her as “slightly thin.”
Dana had been mortally wounded by blunt-force head trauma, but the first responders did not recognize the severity of her injuries.
One of the paramedics who treated her told the police that he noticed very little blood at the scene—just “20 drops” on the floor. He said that he didn’t remember seeing blood anywhere in the room except under Dana’s head. He said that her head was at least three feet away from any furniture. Therefore, she could not have hit her head on an object or sharp edge. He noted that there was no yoga mat on the concrete floor.
A firefighter said that Dana was not able to speak to him, but she did respond to his questions by squeezing his hand. He said that she had a large hematoma at the base of her skull under her hair. He assumed that the drops of blood on the floor were from this hematoma. The word “hematoma” in this instance suggests that there was a solid swelling of clotted blood within the skin of Dana’s scalp.
First responders said that they didn’t know what was wrong with Dana when they examined her. Due to her vital signs, they knew that she needed to be taken to a trauma center.
In home-surveillance recordings, Dana appeared to be unconscious as she was wheeled from her house. Her eyes were closed. She was motionless and strapped to a gurney. Huck held up a phone and took a photograph of his wife as she was being taken to the ambulance.
According to a police report, the paramedics did not look into Dana’s eyes until she was inside the ambulance. At that time, they observed that one of her pupils was fixed and dilated. This can be an ominous sign of heightened pressure within the skull. At 9:18 a.m., with lights flashing, the ambulance drove away from the house.
After the first responders left, Dana’s husband remained at the house. He initiated phone calls. He told people that his wife had fallen and hit her head while doing yoga. Later, he took a shower and changed his clothes. He packed a bag that did not appear to include items for Dana such as toiletries or pajamas. Rather, he packed electronic devices — his iPad and phone along with Dana’s phone — and Dana’s wallet, which he removed from her purse.
The surveillance video showed him driving away from the house at 9:57 a.m.— 39 minutes after the departure of the ambulance. By that time, Dana had already been admitted to St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. According to the limited hospital records provided to Dana’s family, admission blood samples were drawn from her at 9:35 a.m.
The emergency-room charge nurse told the police that she remembered seeing Dana when she was admitted to the hospital. She said that she did not recall seeing any visible injuries to Dana’s face or body. Because of her inability to talk, and her unequally dilated pupils, the emergency room staff initially thought that Dana had suffered a stroke.
A doctor ordered a CT scan. The scan showed a basal skull fracture to the left occipital area, a large occipital hematoma, and a large frontal hematoma. The hematomas identified by the CT scan were inside Dana’s skull. These were severe, acute injuries to her brain.
It turned out that the presumed hematoma described by the fireman on Dana’s scalp under her hair wasn’t a hematoma at all. Rather, it was an irregular laceration in the shape of a backward or upside-down letter L, almost two inches long. It wasn’t bleeding. This wound was so large and deep that a surgeon had to close it with surgical staples. The surgeon told the police that wherever the injury had happened, there would be a lot of blood.
Doctors performed emergency surgery to remove part of Dana’s skull to make room for her brain to swell. But her brain had swollen too much already. Irreversible damage had been done. Her brain had been crushed by the pressure inside her skull — a phenomenon known as brainstem herniation. As a result, Dana was brain-dead.
According to Huck, Dana had fallen to the floor while doing yoga exercises at home. As a result, she sustained severe head injuries — injuries so severe that they more likely would have been found in someone who had been hurt in a car crash. Dana received immediate medical care and prompt surgical intervention. Even so, she was observed to be brain-dead just hours after the “accident.”
A social worker at the hospital telephoned the Long Beach Police on the afternoon of March 4, 2014 — the day after Dana was admitted to the hospital. The social worker said that doctors had come to her with concerns about Dana’s injuries.
“They’re saying that it looks like it may have been someone assaulting her,” the social worker told the police dispatcher. “All the doctors are saying that the nature of the injuries suggests that it may have been foul play. They’re saying, like, that it sounds like if she’s doing yoga, and she fell and hit her head, it wouldn’t have fractured it that severely.”
Long Beach Police detectives launched an investigation into possible homicide involving assault with a deadly weapon. On the night of March 4th, officers executed a search warrant at the couple’s house.
Detectives saw that the home was covered by a video surveillance system equipped with twelve cameras. The cameras were activated by motion detectors. The police believed that the cameras had recorded all activity at the house without interruption.
According to Huck, he took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood on the morning of March 3rd. On the surveillance video, he can be seen walking out the front door with the dog at 8:12 a.m. He can be seen returning to the house with the dog at 8:38 a.m.
Huck claimed that when he entered the house, he could hear Dana’s iPad playing a yoga video behind the closed door of the recreation room. In the surveillance video, Huck can be seen wearing earbuds as he entered the house. His ears remained covered for several minutes as he prepared a bed for the dog on a sofa. Huck told the police that he heard a loud crash minutes after returning with the dog. He said that “it sounded like wood being hit.”
On the surveillance video, the dog on the sofa appeared to react to a noise at 8:48 a.m. Huck was not on camera at this time. Huck dialed 911 at 8:51 a.m. He did not reappear on camera until 8:56 a.m., when he exited the exterior door of the yoga room and opened the front gate.
Detectives seized Dana’s iPad and the digital video recorder (DVR) from the home’s video surveillance system. One investigator remarked to a member of Dana’s family that a guy would have to be crazy to kill his wife with so many video cameras around his house.
The video system was installed by Dana’s husband, however, and he was the only person who managed and monitored the system. Nevertheless, the detectives presumed that the video files on the DVR gave an authentic, complete account of activities in and around the house.
A forensic examination of Dana’s iPad showed that it had been used to make a purchase from Levenger.com at 8:28 a.m. on March 3rd while Huck was away from the house. Minutes later at 8:33 a.m., the iPad was used to log in to a yoga instruction video on Gaia.com. The iPad played an episode of Rod Stryker’s Peak Performance Yoga.
Reportedly, the police did not conduct a forensic examination of the DVR. Rather, detectives downloaded and watched some of the video files.
According to the surveillance video, Huck was not in the house at the times when Dana’s iPad was used. Therefore, the detectives assumed that she was alive and well somewhere in the house using her iPad — even though she did not appear in the surveillance recordings that morning.
Investigators concluded that Huck could not have bludgeoned his wife and cleaned up the scene in just the nine minutes between the alleged “loud crash” that caused the dog to startle at 8:48 a.m., and the arrival of first responders at 8:57 a.m. Investigators presumed that, as Huck had claimed, Dana was alive and well in the house when he left to walk the dog. Therefore, it seemed impossible that Huck could have assaulted his wife that morning.
The Los Angeles County Coroner found that Dana had not had a stroke. In fact, the medical examiner identified no medical condition that accounted for how or why this healthy, experienced yoga practitioner fell, cracked her head, and never regained consciousness.
The autopsy report stated: “The decedent experienced a falling episode one year ago while in Hawaii. She reportedly fell and struck the back of her head. She was evaluated and was reported to be fine. During the past three months, the decedent was reported to be moving in slow manner while having difficulty getting up in the morning.”
Dana’s parents and siblings disputed these claims — she had not been to Hawaii in years, they said, and she had not been “moving in a slow manner while having difficulty getting up in the morning.” These claims had been made by Huck. The family wondered why the police and the coroner’s office had accepted his statements as truthful, and had included them in the autopsy report.
They also wondered why an alleged yoga fall that resulted in no injury was cited in the autopsy report as if to suggest that an identical, alleged yoga fall might logically result in lethal injury. It was especially implausible considering that blunt-force head trauma had never been cited as a yoga-related hazard — sprains and strains, yes; skull fractures, no. Further, studies have shown that yoga practice improves a person’s balance and self-perception of falling — a fact which made the “deadly yoga fall” story all the more questionable.
Seeming to discount the autopsy report’s comments about a previous fall, the medical examiner’s neuropathology report clarified that Dana had no pre-existing injury that might have caused her to lose her balance, or to lose consciousness. Rather, the medical examiner concluded that Dana’s death was caused by blunt-force head trauma. She had sustained a severe blow to her head, and this was what had killed her.
And yet the autopsy report stated that the manner of her death was accidental.
Dana’s parents and siblings were stunned by the coroner’s finding. They noticed several glaring inaccuracies in the autopsy report. For example, in his description of the injury, the examiner wrote: “On the back of the head 5 inches below the buttocks and located in the midline is an irregular laceration measuring 1-3/4 inches. The underlying occipital skull has a linear fracture extending from the midline to the left near the foramen magnum. The fracture measures about 4-1/2 inches.” [sic]
On the back of her head, five inches below the buttocks? Even if the word “buttocks” was intended as an archaic reference to a midbrain structure, the examiner’s description of the injury’s location made no sense to Dana’s family.
A diagram drawn by the examiner suggested that the injury to Dana’s scalp was in the middle of the back of her head. However, while the woman was in the hospital, her family had been told that the injury was to the lower part of her head, and to one side — to the right side, they thought, with a fracture running from dual points of impact to the left. Later, they would learn from police reports that the injury was to the lower left part of her skull. Either way, the autopsy report did not seem to accord with what the family had been told by hospital staff. Citing healthcare privacy laws, the hospital declined to release Dana’s medical records.
The autopsy report stated: “The 50 years old Caucasian female fell to the floor and sustained blunt force head trauma while doing yoga exercises at her residence. CT scan of head revealed skull fracture and subdural hemorrhage. She died 3 days later.” [sic]
The statement that Dana died three days after her injury was obviously false, Dana’s family knew. She was admitted to the hospital on March 3rd. When her family arrived at the hospital that evening, they were told by nurses that Dana had sustained irreversible brain damage. Meaning, she was already brain-dead. Homicide detectives were assigned to her case on March 4th. Unless it was common practice to launch a homicide investigation prior to a person’s death, the statement in the autopsy report was nonsensical.
Because Dana was an organ donor, medical staff worked to keep her heart beating until March 8th when her organs were harvested. Nonetheless, she was brain-dead on March 3rd.
The family protested other statements in the autopsy report. For example, Huck claimed that Dana had been doing yoga at the time of her injury. The report cited this claim as factual but offered no evidence to support it.
The family strongly doubted that Dana had been watching a yoga video on the morning of March 3rd. She always did a brief yoga routine when she got out of bed. She didn’t need to follow a video. The yoga video that she was allegedly watching was a slow, simple instructional program for beginners. After years of daily yoga practice, she was well beyond it.
Later, the family learned from a private investigator that Dana’s streaming-video account at Gaia.com continued to be used months after her death. Obviously, someone other than Dana was able to access her video account.
The family also doubted that Dana would have been shopping online at 8:28 a.m. on a Monday prior to doing yoga. She was a happily self-employed kitchen designer with a waiting list of clients. She was too busy to shop for a purse first thing in the morning at the start of a work week.
According to the home surveillance video, Dana disappeared into her house on the night of March 2nd for a period of eleven hours before the paramedics were called on the morning of March 3rd. Over the course of eleven hours, Dana never walked to the kitchen for a beverage. She never went to the kitchen hutch to get her iPad, or her iPhone, or her wallet. Yet supposedly she was somewhere in the house, alive and well on the morning of March 3rd, making an online purchase and watching a video with this same iPad.
The last thing that Dana did in her life that was recorded by the home surveillance system contradicted her husband’s claims: she used her iPad at the kitchen hutch on the night of March 2nd. She walked away from the device at around 10:21 p.m., never to be seen alive and well again on camera. Later, on March 4th, the police found and photographed her iPad on the hutch exactly where she had left it on the night of March 2nd. If the device had ever been in the yoga room on March 3rd, who put it there — and who returned it to the hutch after the woman’s injury?
Huck’s story did not ring true, and yet the police refused to consider the possibility that he had assaulted Dana sometime during the eleven-hour period between 10:21 p.m. on March 2nd and 8:51 a.m. on March 3rd. They refused to consider the possibility that Huck had fabricated his own alibi by using the iPad himself. Later, he gave the police the four-digit code to unlock Dana’s iPad for the purpose of conducting a forensic exam of the device — meaning, Huck had access to the device himself.
The family wondered why the police and the coroner’s office accepted Huck’s claims at face value. Judging from his statements and behavior — and based on 14 years of knowing the man — Dana’s parents and siblings were confident that this was not a case of accidental death. They urged Long Beach homicide detectives to investigate further. The detectives refused, saying that Dana had died from a fall while doing yoga. According to one of the detectives, the medical examiner had taken one look at Dana’s head and knew instantly that it was an accident.
If it was so obviously an accidental injury, why had doctors at the hospital expressed serious concerns about it, prompting a social worker to call the police?
In February 2015, Dana’s family retained a well-known Los Angeles attorney to conduct a private investigation. The attorney brought in a former Long Beach homicide detective who had become a private investigator, and who still worked on cold cases for LBPD. This detective had been involved with Dana’s case while it was being investigated by the police, and had trained the lead detective in the case. According to him, the home-surveillance video proved that no murder could have been committed. He insisted that Dana’s death was a freak accident. He even provided the family with copies of the video that had been seized by the police, photos taken at the scene, and several police reports related to the case.
Far from demonstrating Huck’s innocence, these documents raised more questions about the police investigation.
For example, the police claimed that they found no traces of blood in the home. A police report noted: “Detectives requested the assistance of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Scientific Services Bureau to perform a Luminol test in the room to see if there was any type of blood stained evidence remaining from the incident. The preliminary Luminol test was inconclusive.”
However, this search for blood was conducted nine days after the first search warrant had been served. When the police first searched the house on March 4th, they did not test anywhere for blood. They searched the house a second time — after the autopsy on March 13th — and restricted their search to just the yoga room.
And yet, when Dana’s family examined police photos taken at the scene on March 4th, they saw blood spatter clearly visible on a dining room chair. Brownish-red stains on the master bathroom floor looked suspiciously like blood stains.
Dana’s family brought these and other details to the attention of their attorney and the police. Still, the family could not persuade the police to reopen the investigation. The police seemed incurious about the case, and dismissive of the family’s concerns. The family wondered why.
The attorney whom they had retained seemed interested in the case at first, but later dropped the ball. He gave the family no status updates on the case for an entire year, even though the family repeatedly requested information. More than one private investigator initially expressed enthusiasm about working on the case, only to abandon it without explanation.
At last, three years after Dana’s death, a retired homicide detective from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department agreed to investigate the case. During his career, he had investigated high-profile murders involving celebrities. He himself had become a law-enforcement celebrity. He was the family’s last hope of making sense of the bizarre case.
He, too, stopped returning the family’s calls and messages.
Eventually, the family learned that the lead homicide detective on the case had been accused of misconduct in a different case, and that his supervisors in the Long Beach Police Department had covered up his lapses for years. Gradually, a picture began to emerge of systemic corruption in Long Beach.
Notably, the City of Long Beach proudly announced that there were 23 homicides in the city in 2014. At the time, this was the lowest number of killings in the city since 1968. Dana’s death didn’t count because the police did not classify it as a homicide.
In June 2014, as Dana’s family sought answers from the police, more than a hundred LBPD officers began using a controversial texting app that automatically deleted messages after five days. The “TigerText” app was used by homicide detectives and internal affairs investigators for official business until 2018, when a media exposé created firestorm of criticism. It appeared to members of the public that the LBPD was systematically destroying communications that otherwise would be discoverable. Critics charged that the LBPD used the app to hide police misconduct.
In 2018, a court case (Gonzales v. City of Long Beach & Citizens Police Complaint Commission) revealed that the city suppressed meritorious complaints about the police. According to one news report, employees of the city manager dismissed 460 complaints about the LBPD over a four-year period starting in 2014. These complaints were dismissed without consideration by the city’s review board of appointed citizen commisioners.
Dana’s family filed an official complaint (pdf) about her case in March 2014. Their request for justice, like so many others, was swept under the rug in Long Beach.