Tommy Lynn Sells

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The Gut-Wrenching Crimes of Tommy Lynn Sells and How a 10-year-old Ended Him

The Crimes of Tommy Lynn Sells

 
 
 

Tommy Lynn Sells, born on June 28, 1964 in Oakland, California. He was an American serial killer who was executed on April 3, 2014. He was found guilty of committing at least one murder and was sentenced to death.

 

Tommy Lynn's Early Life

Tommy Lynn had a troublesome childhood and it is believed this contributed significantly in the twisted life he lived as an adult.

 

When Sells was seven years old, he started drinking alcohol frequently. He obtained it from a stash that belonged to his maternal grandfather. In less than a year, Sells began spending time with an older man who Sells claimed had sexually abused him.

 

At the age of 14 in 1978, Tommy Lynn Sells began living as a nomad and continued to do so permanently.

Tommy Lynn later in prison

 

 

 

In May 1981, when he visited family in Little Rock, Arkansas, he was thrown out by his mother after he attempted to molest her while she was in the shower. After this incident, he did not receive mental health assistance and his drinking habits worsened, which eventually led to his first arrest in 1982 for public intoxication.

 

From 1978 to 1999, Sells traveled across the United States as a homeless person. He relied on hitchhiking and train-hopping to get around. During this time, he also committed several crimes. Sells managed to secure a few manual-labor and barber jobs, but these were short-term and didn't last very long.

 

This life of a vagabond Sells lived helped him evade the authorities as his crimes were scattered across several states of the United States.

 

Sells abused drugs, drank heavily and was arrested a couple of times.

 

In total there were 22 confirmed victims of Tommy Lynn Sells, he claimed he had confessed to more than 70 murders.

The Dardeen Family Attack

 

 

 

On November 17, 1987, in Ina, Illinois, Tommy was picked up by Keith Dardeen, 29, while hitchhiking, who invited him to dinner at his home.

 

When they arrived, Sells pulled out a handgun, shot Keith twice in the head, and then castrated him before shooting him once more. Sells also bludgeoned Keith's 3-year-old son, Peter Dardeen, to death.

 

 

The Dardeen Family

He then attacked Keith's 30-year-old pregnant wife, Elaine Dardeen, who went into labor and gave birth to a daughter named Casey Dardeen.

 

Sells used a baseball bat to kill Casey and then mutilated Elaine's breasts and sexually assaulted her lifeless body with the same weapon. He left the bat protruding out of her vagina.

 

The Crime That Led To His Arrest

In the Guajia Bay subdivision west of Del Rio, Texas, on December 31, 1999, Tommy Lynn Sells sexually assaulted, stabbed, and killed 13-year-old Kaylene "Katy" Harris.

 

On December 30, 13-year-old Kaylene Harris (known as Katy) and 10-year-old Krystal Surles were getting ready to have a sleepover at Katy's home in Del Rio, Texas.

Kaylene "Katy" Harris

 

 

 

 

Krystal Surles and Katy Harris stayed up late during their sleepover. At around 3:50 am, Krystal was awakened by what she thought was a scream. She slept on the top bunk while Katy was on the bottom. Upon looking up, she saw a frightening man at the foot of the bed.

 

The room's lights were on, and the man had a long, dark, unkempt hair, a large bushy beard that covered his entire face, and menacing eyes. Krystal noticed that Katy had blood on her and saw that the man was holding a knife. Horrified, she watched as the man cut Katy's throat, causing her to fall to the ground.

Krystal Surles in the hospital after her throat was cut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initially, the man did not notice Krystal, but he turned back as he was leaving the room and saw her staring at him. Krystal attempted to move away from him by shifting to the right side of the bed, but the man reached over and slashed her throat before departing.

 

Krystal managed to survive by traveling a quarter-mile to a neighbor's home with a severed trachea.

This was the sketch that made from Surle's description

 

 

 

 

Sells was captured after the victims provided a description that was used to create a sketch and identify him.

 

Krystal said she couldn't erase the image of the man from her mind and was impressed with how accurately the artist had depicted her description. Later on, the police presented Krystal with a photo lineup and observed as she scanned through the photos. When she came across a picture of Tommy Lynn Sells, she immediately placed her right index finger on his image.

A heart broken note written by Krystal as she fought for her life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a result, Sells became the primary suspect, and the investigators traveled back to Del Rio, which was a two-and-a-half-hour drive from San Antonio.

 

They arrived at Sells' house at 5:30 am and found him standing near the doorway when they walked in through the unlocked door. He calmly stated, "I'm glad I finally got caught - I was tired of doing this."

 

 

Tommy Lynn Sells was executed by lethal injection on April 3, 2014, at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.

 

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