Dana Jones was a successful kitchen designer in Long Beach, California. Several of her designs appeared in national magazines — including her own kitchen, which was featured in This Old House (pdf). She was among the few local designers who still drew her designs by hand.
Yoga classes offered Dana a break from the long hours she spent at her drafting table. Over several years of practice, yoga became a true joy for her. Each morning when she got out of bed, she did a brief yoga routine to greet the day. Dana’s life seemed perfect. Except for her marriage.
Dana’s husband Cain Finn Jones a.k.a. Huck called 911 from their house at 8:51 a.m. on the morning of March 3, 2014. He told the emergency dispatcher that his wife “was doing yoga, doing a headstand, fell, and, um, she’s bleeding from behind.” She had been mortally wounded by a skull-fracturing blow.
The next day, a social worker at the hospital called the police because 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.
Todd Johnson, a homicide detective assigned to the case, had botched at least one murder investigation in the recent past, and was rumored to drink on the job. He told Dana’s family that Huck was “totally innocent.” Home-surveillance video proved his innocence, the detective claimed.
Dana’s autopsy report (pdf) showed that she died from head injuries so severe that they more likely would have been caused by a car crash than a “yoga fall.” Even so, the medical examiner ruled that Dana’s death was the result of a catastrophic yoga accident. Case closed.
To Dana’s family, the conclusions of the police and the coroner were absurd. Her family hired attorneys — including former L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich — and investigators — including former LBPD homicide detective Bryan McMahon — to obtain police reports and home-surveillance videos related to the case.
The homicide investigation had been shoddy at best, they learned. Police, with the approval of the coroner’s office, had allowed Dana’s organs to be harvested by One Legacy before her autopsy was performed.
In 2017, more than three years after Dana’s death, former homicide investigator with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Mark Lillienfeld wrote: “At a minimum, as it now stands, Dana’s death appears mysterious, suspicious, and inconsistent with some of the physical evidence. I think some of the mystery can be clarified with further inquiry.”
Todd Johnson is no longer a homicide detective in Long Beach. Even so, the Long Beach Police Department refuses to reopen Dana’s case.