Dana Vonde Chisholm was born to parents Johnny and Jogary Chisholm on the 30th of August 1969. Dana and her two siblings grew up in Rock Hill, North Carolina.
Dana attended Northwestern High School, where she was a member of the school chorus, the cheerleading team and the homecoming court. Whilst in high school, Dana developed a slightly rebellious side and used a few drugs, and she even ran away from home once.
But Dana decided that she wanted to do better for herself, and decided to stop acting rebellious and focused on her studies.
After graduating high school, Dana went on to study business at King’s College, Charlotte. But Dana thought that life in Rock Hill was boring, and she wanted to move somewhere else.
Between 1993 and 1994, Dana moved into a small basement apartment on Argyle Terrace, NW, in Washington DC’s Crestwood neighbourhood. Crestwood was also home to William S. Sessions, former director of the FBI, and former senator John. D “Jay” Rockefeller IV.
In the Autumn of 1994, Dana got a job as a secretary for the Hudson Institute. To her neighbours and co-workers, Dana was quiet and hardworking.
On Friday 24th of February, 1995, 25-year-old Dana phoned her close friend and said that she wasn’t feeling very well and that she might not go to work on Monday. Dana told her friend that she was planning on staying home all weekend.
This was the last time anyone spoke to Dana.
On Monday, the 27th of February, Dana’s office manager visited her friend’s home to see if she had heard from Dana as her parents couldn’t get in contact with her. Dana’s friend said that she hadn’t heard from her since Friday.
At around 6:30pm that evening, Dana’s landlady who lived above her, Cynthia Ford, went down to check on her. It was then that Cynthia found Dana’s naked body in the hallway, with a cord wrapped tightly around her neck.
Dana’s cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation by strangulation. The medical examiner also said that Dana could also have been raped. Dana had been dead for approximately 20 hours before being found.
When the police were searching Dana’s apartment, they found no sign of forced entry. Whoever had killed Dana had also raided Dana’s apartment. There was also a handwritten note attached to the back of the front door that read: “I’ll be back – MPD.”
MPD is the initial of the Metropolitan Police Department, which was investigating Dana’s murder.
Investigators also found out that Dana would often go to local bars, and would run and answer local ads to meet men. Dana kept records of any man that she met for sex, and the men that she met ranged in both ages and professions. Dana would often get paid by these men, after saying things like “my roommate moved out, and I could really use some help with the rent.”
It was also discovered that at the time of her death, Dana was four weeks pregnant. She had rang her parents a week before her death and told them that she was coming home in two weeks and had something to tell them. It is now believed that she was going to tell them that she was pregnant.
A few hours after Dana had been murdered and hours before her body was found, her father Johnny received a phone call from a man who said that he was Lt. Lewis Douglass of the MPD. The man said that Dana had been arrested for prostitution during a sting operation at the Omni Hotel. The man then told Johnny that Dana would be released sometime the next day and that she would call him. The man then gave Johnny a number that he said Johnny could reach him on.
However, when Johnny called the number back, it went straight to the real Lt. Lewis Douglass of the MPD. Lewis then told Johnny that he had not called him in regard to Dana and that as far as he knew she hadn’t been arrested. Lewis had met Dana a few weeks earlier after she reported that her television had been stolen.
Lewis gave Dana his business card that had his number on it, and he believes that whoever killed Dana and ransacked her apartment found his business card which gave the perpetrator access to his office number. Investigators were able to track the call that Johnny received to a payphone at Fourth Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW, which is around five blocks away from the MPD headquarters.
Johnny said that the man on the phone sounded nervous and edgy and that he spoke in a very loud voice.
A few weeks after Dana’s murder, a man called the MPD and wanted to speak to Homicide Commander Michael Farish, who was investigating Dana’s case. Micheal was out of the office at the time, so the caller left messages for him but no number to call back on.
The man did call back a few weeks later, and this time he actually spoke to Michael. The caller told Michael that Dana was murdered because of her lifestyle, and asked Michael to share the details of Dana’s life with journalists. Michael then shared a story about a naive young woman with journalists, hoping to draw the unknown caller out.
Michael spoke to the caller a few more times before they agreed to meet. Michael drove to an area east of the Potomac River where he and the caller had agreed to meet, and he waited in an unmarked police car for hours. However, the mysterious caller never showed up, and Michael never heard from him again.
Dana’s murder is still unsolved after 27 years. The police have never named or identified any suspects in Dana’s case, nor have any arrests been made.
There are a few theories as to who might have been responsible for Dana’s murder.
Firstly, the killer could have been Lt. Lewis Douglass. Lewis had been to Dana’s apartment weeks prior to her death as she reported her TV stolen. Also, the MPD refused to let Lewis speak to journalist Avis Thomas-Lester of The Washington Post about Dana’s case, which raises some questions. Why would Lewis not be able to speak to the journalist regarding Dana’s death if he had no involvement?
Another theory is that the father of Dana’s unborn child was responsible for her death. He could have wanted Dana to get an abortion, or he could have been married with children of his own and got violent when Dana told him she was keeping the child, or if she had threatened to tell his wife. He also could have been wealthy or had a powerful job.
Dana’s murder is still being investigated by the MPD, but no new leads have been found.
Will Dana’s family ever receive the justice they deserve?
Unsolved, Murder, Homicide, Unsolved Case, Cold Case, Washington DC, 1990s, Mystery, True Crime, Dana Chisholm