Dominique Dunne was best remembered as Dana Freeling, the older sister in the first Poltergeist film.
She was living in a home on Rangely Avenue, in West Hollywood. In 1982, she was dating a man named John Thomas Sweeney. He was a chef at Ma Maison. Apparently, he and Dominique had an abusive relationship. Dominique had enough of the relationship, and broke up with him.
On October 30th, 1982 - John Thomas Sweeney shows up at Dominique's house to attempt reconciliation. Inside, Dominique was running lines for the TV show V, with an actor named David Packer. John Thomas Sweeney comes knocking. Dominique opens the door, and tells Packer to stay inside... she heads outside to talk to her ex-boyfriend, where a heated argument ensues between both of them.
David Packer is often blamed for not going to Dominique's rescue, but how was he to know? it wasn't his issue, and none of his business. Jobeth Williams really threw him under a bus in one of those E! shows. Ultimately, how was he to know?... He eventually did open the door, and found John Thomas Sweeney kneeling over Dominique's limp body. After 4-5 minutes of strangling Dominique in her driveway, he looked at David Packer and said, "I killed my girlfriend." 911 was called.
Dominique was rushed to Emergency Room of Cedars Sinai Medical Center. She remained in a coma for 6 days, and at 11am on November 4, they pulled the plug... she was only 22 years old. Strangulation is listed as the official cause of death. Her organs were donated to the hospital, per her mother's request.
The police arrested John Thomas Sweeney, and he confessed. Open and shut? No way. He was charged with murder and assault. He attempted suicide with a disposable razor. After a year of trial etc, he was convicted of assault and unintentional manslaughter. He was given a six-year prison sentence. He was relased after 2 1/2 years, and upon his release he became a top chef again, in LA.
Dominique's mother set up a grievance support group called, "Justice for Victims of Homicide." On the nights that Sweeney worked, Dominique's brother Griffin Dunne (An American Werewolf in London) and other friends and group members would hand out papers in front of the restaurant that stated, "The hands that will prepare your meal tonight also murdered Dominique Dunne." John Thomas Sweeney was instantly fired, and moved to the Northwest. He later changed his name to John Maura.
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Dominique Dunne Poltergeist
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