Inmate: Dane Williams at 'gay sex party' with accused killer - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

WEDNESDAY, October 27, 2010

Inmate claims Dane Williams attended 'gay sex party' with accused killer

Posted: Updated:
Murder victim Dane Williams Murder victim Dane Williams
  • RelatedMore>>

  • Family, Friends Seek Answers in Death of Orange County Man

    Family, Friends Seek Answers in Death of Orange County Man

    Sunday, January 25 2009 1:57 PM EST2009-01-25 18:57:43 GMT
    Sunday, January 25 2009 2:19 PM EST2009-01-25 19:19:47 GMT
    It's been one year since the disappearance and death of Dane Williams. The Huntington Beach man went missing from a downtown hotel and was later found dead in an alley in City Heights.  
    It's been one year since the disappearance and death of Dane Williams. The Huntington Beach man went missing from a downtown hotel and was later found dead in an alley in City Heights.  

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- Almost three years after the mysterious death of Orange County resident Dane Williams, investigators have served a search warrant to examine a new lead in the murder case.

The 23-year-old, in San Diego on business to attend the Action Sports Retailer Convention, disappeared after a night of partying in the Gaslamp Quarter on January 26, 2008. His body was found dumped in a City Heights alley off Landis Street three days later.

An autopsy performed on Williams was unable to determine the exact cause of death, though prosecutors believe the victim was drunk and drugged at the time of his murder.

The case was unsolved for more than a year and a half before police announced in September 2009 that DNA evidence recovered from the body had led to the arrest of the suspected killer, Philong Huynh.

News 8 has learned the district attorney's office served a new search warrant in the case last week.

The property to be searched: a cell phone belonging to a current California state prison inmate, James Swann.

Swann claims his cell phone contains photographs of Williams attending a "gay sex party" in Hillcrest together with Huynh, 40, the man now accused of sexually assaulting and murdering Williams.

Williams' body was found wrapped in a rug -- his underwear missing -- one block from where Huynh lived.

According to prosecutors, DNA evidence linked Huynh to Williams' murder, as well as to the sexual assault of a Navy man in June of last year.

Prosecutors allege Huynh drugged both men with Benzodiazepine, a tranquilizer similar to Valium.

According to the new search warrant, James Swann -- now incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison near Fresno – contacted the DA's office himself via several written letters beginning in September 2009.

Swann claimed he had known Huynh since 2007 and saw both Huynh and Williams at a party in Hillcrest the night of January 27, 2008, the day after Williams went missing.

"He saw Huynh and Williams engaged in sex," the warrant reads.

During an interview, Swann told a DA investigator he snapped pictures of the two men at the party using his cell phone, which later was confiscated by San Diego Police during Swann's arrest on unrelated charges on June 21, 2009.

The DA investigator issued the search warrant and recovered a "purple and black ‘flip-style' cellular telephone" from the SDPD evidence vault on October 20, 2010, according to the warrant; but it is not known what photographs, if any, the cell phone contained.

The warrant states investigators will look at Swann's telephone contact list, text messages and call logs to try to verify the inmate's otherwise unsubstantiated claims.

If investigators find the photos, the evidence could "yield additional unidentified witnesses in the case," according to the warrant.

"If the images exist as Swann claims, it would shed new light onto the investigation and possibly show a relationship between Huynh and Williams," the warrant continues. "Thus far, other than the statements made by Swann, the investigation has not revealed any prior relationship between Huynh and Williams."

Huynh's public defender, Terry Zimmerman, told News 8, "At this point, based on what we know, it does not appear this information provided by Mr. Swann will impact the case."

Prosecutor Gretchen Means declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation.

Huynh is still facing a trial on the murder charge with a special circumstance of sodomy. His next court hearing is set for November 12. The district attorney's office is in the process of deciding whether to push for the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KFMB-TV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.