Chino Hills Massacre of 1983 | True Crime Shorts

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In the Chino Hills area of California, on June 4th 1983, four people were slaughtered at a semi-rural home in the region.

Chino Hills Massacre of 1983 | True Crime Shorts
Kevin Cooper in 1983. Credit: The Sun Newspaper.

41-year-old Franklin Douglas Ryen and his wife Peggy, their daughter, 10-year-old Jessica, and their houseguest, 11-year-old Christopher Hughes, were hacked to death with a hatchet and stabbed with a knife.

The Ryen’s eight-year-old son Josh, had survived despite having his throat cut.

The following morning, Christopher’s father, Bill Hughes, arrived at the residence to collect his son and walked into the scene of the massacre. It became known as the Chino Hills Massacre.

Police immediately arrested African American Kevin Cooper, who had resided in the vacant house next door.

Cooper proclaimed his innocence saying he was hitchhiking at the time of the murders and was on his way to Mexico when he was picked up.

Despite flawed evidence collected at the scene and a badly handled investigation, he was ultimately convicted on the witness statement of Josh who opened with; “the first time I met Kevin Cooper I was eight years old and he slit my throat.”

Kevin Cooper in 1983. Credit: San Quentin Prison.

In 1985, Cooper was sentenced to death for the murders. In 2004, new forensic testing of the DNA confirmed Cooper to have been the killer.

In June 2020, a new investigation learned that certain evidence was not shared with his lawyers and there were clear indications of the possible guilt of another man, that were ignored.

Even a bloody pair of overalls linked to the other suspect was tossed out by police. Cooper remains on death row and vehemently proclaims his innocence.

On 28th May 2021, California governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to launch an independent investigation of Kevin Cooper’s case as part of the evaluation of Cooper’s application for clemency.

That investigation is ongoing as of 2022, and is set to review all the facts, records, and evidence available. It will once and for all determine the truth behind the Chino Hills Massacre.

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