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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

California Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for a Maryland Murder Solved by DNA


DNA Sample Taken by California Police in 2013 Matched 2009 Maryland Murder Scene


Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson sentenced Dellando Recardo Campbell, age 32, of Lemoore, California, today to 30 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for interstate domestic violence resulting in the death of a spouse, in connection of the death of Serika Dunkley Holness.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“The blood Dellando Campbell left behind at the 2009 crime scene was analyzed and entered into a national DNA database, where it waited four years for a match,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Thanks to a routine DNA analysis performed in California when Mr. Campbell was arrested on an unrelated charge, Maryland authorities finally learned the identity of the second killer of Serika Dunkley Holness.”

According to his plea agreement, Campbell agreed to help Ryan Dave Holness murder Ryan Holness’ wife, Serika Dunkley Holness, and conceal Ryan Holness’ role in the murder. Campbell had known Holness since 2002, when they served together in the Navy.

In November 2008, Holness represented himself to be his wife when he completed an on-line application for a $500,000 life insurance policy for his wife. Holness designated himself as the sole beneficiary of that policy. The policy would not have been issued had the insurer known that Holness purchased the policy.

Between May and June 4, 2009, Holness contacted Campbell by phone and text at least 34 times and arranged for Campbell to travel to New York City to assist in the murder of Serika Holness. On June 4, 2009, Holness told Campbell that he was going to kill the victim and that he needed Campbell’s help to make the murder appear to have been committed during a carjacking on the drive to Maryland.

Campbell admitted that on the evening of June 4, 2009, Holness drove Campbell and the victim from New York to Maryland. At around 1:30 a.m. on June 5, 2009, Holness, Campbell and the victim arrived at a rural area along MD Route 290, just south of MD Route 291, in Crumpton, Kent County, MD. Holness parked the Honda on a farm access road. Serika Holness was murdered in a field beside Route 290 where she was repeatedly stabbed, resulting in her death.

Campbell purposely left his own blood at the murder scene in order to provide support for Holness’s plan to tell the police that an unknown carjacker had attacked Holness and murdered the victim. Campbell admitted that he helped Holness stage the crime scene by depositing droplets of blood at various locations inside the passenger compartment of the Honda and on several of the victim’s personal items that were placed at the crime scene to be discovered by the police. Items at the murder scene from which Campbell’s DNA was later recovered included the victim’s purse, one of her sandals and a paperback book. Campbell then drove the Honda, guided by a GPS system, to a location between 6th and 7th Streets NW, Washington, D.C., where it was located and seized by homicide investigators later on June 5, 2009. Meanwhile, Holness told the police a bizarre, false story about the supposed carjacking.

On June 5, 2009 Holness was arrested and charged with premeditated murder. While being held in pretrial detention in Kent County, Holness asked another prisoner to draft a purported third party “confession” to the carjacking and murder. Holness told the cellmate to mail the detailed confession to the police from Washington, D.C. upon the cellmate’s release, which was imminent. Instead, the cellmate informed the state police of Holness’ efforts. Several pages of confessions, including pages written by Holness, were removed from Holenss’ cell by the state police.

After a two week trial, Ryan Holness, age 33, formerly of Lexington Park, Maryland, was convicted of domestic violence resulting in the death of a spouse and sentenced on June 9, 2011, to life in prison.

The DNA profile of the unidentified male found in Holness’ car and on items at the crime scene was entered into the national DNA data base, where it was regularly compared with DNA profiles recovered since its entry. On October 22, 2013, a sample of Campbell’s DNA was routinely obtained by police in Lemoore, California. In January 2014, the California Department of Justice notified the Maryland State Police that Campbell’s DNA profile matched the DNA profile for the unidentified male in the Holness case. Campbell was arrested by the Maryland State Police and FBI in Lemoore, California on February 7, 2014.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Maryland State Police and FBI for their work in the investigation and thanked the Kings County, California, District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Justice and the Lemoore, California, Police Department for their assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys John F. Purcell, and Kenneth S. Clark, who prosecuted the case.

Updated January 27, 2015