35 Years Later: Dardeen Family Murders

by Aaron Price | 11/17/22 | 6:10 p.m.

©️ WFCN News
©️ WFCN News

INA, ILLINOIS - This Friday marks the 35th anniversary of one of the most gruesome murders in Southern Illinois history.

35 years ago, on a cool November evening, police responded to a mobile home in the small community of Ina, Illinois, located just north of the Franklin County line. 

Upon arrival, arriving deputies found the brutally beaten bodies of Ruby Dardeen and her son. The father, Keith, had reportedly not showed up for work on November 18th, so it is believed the murders occurred the day before.

Ruby Dardeen was just 30 years old at the time of her death, and her husband was only one year younger. He would be found the next day in a nearby field with bullet wounds and portions of his body mutilated.

During the initial homicides of his wife and unborn baby, it is reported that Ruby Dardeen had went into labor during the homicide and her baby was later beaten to death as well.

Public On the Edge

In the wake of the Dardeen family murders, Southern Illinois had been dealing with a string of homicides in the recent months and years leading up to the killings.

Local law enforcement reported that nearby residents were keeping loaded guns by their bed sides, in their vehicles, and other areas as a form of protection.

Rumor circulated throughout the region that satanists were allegedly responsible for the murders, but all rumored theories were proven untrue.

Who was responsible?

Although this case has never been officially concluded, many law enforcement have been led to believe that serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells is responsible for the murders after confessing to them before he was executed on a separate murder investigation in Texas.

Sells' confession did not come until the early 2000s, and no other suspects were identified in the murder investigation until then.

He was unable to be formally charged in Illinois because he was already on death row, and laws would not allow for him to be transferred to the state of Illinois for trial.

Tommy Lynn Sells was a particular subject of interest in the investigation because of a statement he made to authorities that no one else other than the suspect would have known. 

Keeping their Memory Alive

The site of the Dardeen family murders is still painfully recognizable, especially to nearby residents in the small community of Ina. A single wide mobile home still sits on the exact same property as where the murders took place.

At the time of the homicide, the Dardeen family also lived in a different single wide trailer. The few family members still living have been relatively quiet on the case since the early 2000s.

Although the case is still open, there have still been no arrests or other suspects reportedly brought into question since that night.

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