Driver charged with murder of mother and kids killed in Highway 154 crash

Vanessa Bley and Max Gleason with their children, Lucienne Gleason and Desmond Gleason

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The man whom a California Highway Patrol officer says intentionally crashed his car into an oncoming vehicle on Highway 154 last month, killing a mother and her two young children, has been charged with three counts of murder. 

John Roderick Dungan, 28, appeared in court Friday morning in a wheel chair. Additionally, the court revoked Dungan’s bail, and he is now incarcerated in the Santa Barbara County Jail.

Shortly before 5 p.m. on Oct. 25, Dungan was driving a Camaro westbound when he crossed into the eastbound lane and slammed head-on into a sedan driven by Rebecca Vanessa Gloss Bley, 34, of Solvang. Bley and her kids, two-year-old Lucienne Gleason and four-month-old Desmond Gleason, died at the scene. 

Dungan suffered critical injuries and was airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. 

An SUV that was following behind the sedan also crashed. A father and son who were inside the SUV emerged from the crash uninjured. 

The crash ignited a blaze that burned two acres before firefighters extinguished it.

Following the crash, sheriff’s officials waited to release the identities of the deceased children until a DNA test had been conducted. 

Before the identities had formerly been released, the children’s father had already accused Dungan of murdering his family in a failed suicide attempt. 

“The love of my life, Vanessa Bley (34), and our two children, Lucienne Bley Gleason (2 years old) and Desmond Bley Gleason (4 months old) were murdered,” Max Gleason wrote in a Facebook post. “My family was murdered. Their death was not some senseless, random act, but a deliberate act of evil. Evil exists in the world. It inhabited John Roderick Dungan and he deliberately ran into my wife’s car in attempt to kill himself and kill others. He succeeded in the latter but not the former. He is still alive. My family is dead.”

A CHP investigation into the crash is still ongoing. The agency has requested that anyone who witnessed the crash or has information about the case call (805) 967-1234.

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