John Dungan booking photo and crash scene
Santa Barbara man John Dungan, 28, has been charged with three counts of murder for the Oct. 25 crash that killed a Solvang woman and her two young children near the Cold Spring Bridge on Highway 154. He crashed his car, a Camaro, head-on into the other vehicle, according to the California Highway Patrol. (Contributed photos)

Murder charges were filed Wednesday against the driver of a Camaro that slammed into a vehicle on Highway 154 last month, killing a Solvang mother and her two young children.

The charges against John Roderick Dungan, 28, of Santa Barbara, were announced by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley.

Dungan was westbound on Highway 154 at about 4:45 p.m. on Oct. 25, when he crossed the double-yellow lines into opposing traffic.

He crashed head-on with a vehicle driven by Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley, 34, of Solvang. A GMC Yukon that was behind the Volt also was involved in the crash.

Both the Volt and Yukon caught on fire, with flames spreading to the nearby vegetation.

Bley Gleason family photo

Vanessa Bley and her husband, Max Gleason, with their two children — 2-year-old Lucienne Bley Gleason and 4-month-old Desmond. Bley and the children were killed in a vehicle crash on Highway 154 on Oct. 25.  (Facebook photo)

Bley and husband Max Gleason’s two children were also killed, 2-year-old Lucienne Bley Gleason, and 4-month-old Desmond Bley Gleason.

Dungan was charged Wednesday with three counts of murder, accused of killing Bley and the children “with malice aforethought,” according to the District Attorney’s Office. 

He was also injured in the crash, and spent more than a week in critical condition at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

As of Wednesday, he was booked into the Santa Barbara County Main Jail and has an arraignment hearing scheduled Friday morning in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, the District Attorney’s Office said. 

Dungan was being held without bail, and reported his occupation as a poker player, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department

Dudley said she read law enforcement reports, talked to the California Highway Patrol, and visited the crash scene before deciding to file murder charges.

Her office is still waiting on the final CHP investigative report, lab reports and other information before specifying the type or degree of murder in the complaint, Dudley said adding that she is confident in filing the murder charges.

“I want to understand what was in the mind of the driver at the time these deaths occurred,” she said. 

The deputy district attorney on this case, Stephen Wagner, was hired a few months ago for his expertise on vehicular manslaughter cases, she noted.

The CHP is planning a press conference to provide more details about the investigation on Thursday afternoon, after briefing Max Gleason, according to Officer Jonathan Gutierrez. 

Dungan has a history of criminal and mental-health issues that are detailed in recent court records for a stalking and firearms-related case filed in March.

Court records indicate he has participated in several residential treatment programs since February. 

The criminal complaint also alleges he committed murder while released from custody on bail or his own recognizance for the March case. 

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

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