Two Years After: Daniel Marsh’s Motivation for Murder

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2013 Murder Scene on Cowell Blvd in Davis
2013 Murder Scene on Cowell Blvd in Davis

By Lloyd Billingsley

On April 14, 2013, Daniel Marsh, 15, murdered Claudia Maupin, 76, and Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, in their Cowell Boulevard residence in south Davis. After a lengthy trial, a Yolo County jury found Marsh guilty of first degree murder and judge David Reed sentenced him to 52 years to life. Even so, two years after this horrific crime some confusion remains about Marsh’s motives.

Claudia Maupin and Chip Northup lived only steps away from the residence of Marsh’s father and the teen passed the place en route to his mother Sheri Hosking’s house on Lillard Drive. He knew that two elderly people lived in the Cowell Boulevard residence near his father, but there was no quarrel between Daniel Marsh and his victims. In the trial, nothing emerged about any feud or grievance between the parties.

Marsh knew karate and liked to mix it up, but there is no record of him challenging Chip Northup to a fight or harassing Claudia Maupin. None of the parties was a member of any gang, so no rivalry of that kind existed. Marsh smoked marijuana but the murders were not part of a drug deal gone bad. Nothing was taken from the Northup-Maupin residence, so the crime was not, as some initially suspected, part of a robbery. And there was never any question of a jilted or jealous lover exacting revenge. The dynamic was something else.

In June of 2013, Marsh told Davis detective Ariel Pineda and FBI Special Agent Chris Campion, that he “stabbed the hell out of them” but “lost count” of how many times. “I cut open their torsos,” he also said, an inserted a cell phone and drinking glass to confuse the investigators.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Marsh told Pineda and Campion. “It felt amazing” and it was “the most exhilarating, enjoyable feeling I’ve ever felt.” Marsh provided great detail about how he had committed the crime, and after he had done so told Pineda and Campion that “all the evidence you need” was in his mother’s garage.

Marsh’s attorney tried to get the confession tossed. When that failed, Marsh changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. Expert witness Dr. James Merikangas testified that brain damage and side effects from drugs such as Zoloft had put Marsh in a dream-like dissociative state in which he did not know right from wrong.

The jury rejected that argument and found Marsh sane. Psychologist Deborah Schmidt found no evidence that Zoloft causes people to research serial killers, as Marsh did. He believed that there were too many people in the world and that the old were particularly useless. His crime, Schmidt testified, had been a case of “predatory violence, meticulously planned.” Marsh knew that Maupin and Northup were old and vulnerable and on April 14, 2013, they left their window open. He took that as an invitation.

Psychologist James Rokop found Marsh to be a “sexual sadist” who derived pleasure from the infliction of pain. Indeed, one of his friends testified that he “liked to torture.” The autopsy report of forensic pathologist Dr. Mark Super confirms that Marsh did torture the victims beyond what he told police and beyond what emerged in court. The jury found true the enhancement for torture, but it added no time to his sentence.

During the 1990s Princeton scholar John DiIulio warned of “superpredators,” violent young people who kill for any reason or none at all. DiIulio thought their numbers would greatly increase but, as he now concedes, it didn’t turn out that way. But as Daniel Marsh’s crime confirms, predatory violence and depravity have no existential problems.

“You almost got away with it,” Chris Campion told him, but Marsh bragged about the crime and got caught. On May 14 he turns 18 and moves to one of California’s state prisons. The convicted double murderer will be eligible for parole at the age of 42.

Lloyd Billingsley covered the Marsh trial for City Journal California and authored Exceptional Depravity: Dan Who Likes Dark and Double Murder in Davis, California.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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38 thoughts on “Two Years After: Daniel Marsh’s Motivation for Murder”

  1. hpierce

    So, now the VG is sponsoring ads and passing them off as “news” and/or “guest commentary”.  El Sicko….  hope you got plenty of $ for this one, David.

  2. Tia Will

    hpierce

    I have written a number of articles for the Vanguard as has my ideologic and political counterpart Jeff Boone. I can assure you that the Vanguard has accepted and posted every article that I have written. If you have a distinctive view point that you feel is worth expressing, my suggestion ( honestly and not sarcastically offered) is that you write a piece expressing your views which would prove more effective than false attribution of nefarious motives.  I can guarantee you that if the piece meets the non stringent and non ideologically determined guidelines available on the site, it will be posted regardless of ideologic bent or David’s agreement or lack thereof with the content.

    1. hpierce

      Ah, so the editorial board supports having the link to Mr Billingsley’s ‘book sale’?  If so, perhaps you’ll support this link to his other books… am sure you’ll want to peruse them,

      http://www.amazon.com/Lloyd-Billingsley/e/B001J3MQFE

      And assume the editorial board supports the publishing of Mr Marsh’s mothers name, and street of residence, and leaves out the father’s, name, William Marsh…  sweet.

      1. Michelle Millet

        For the record, I had no idea this piece was going to be published until I read it this morning.

        What is the big deal about adding a link to someone’s book? It seem like pretty standard operating procedure.

        1. hpierce

          Michelle, I understand your perspective… mine is that Mr Billingsley purposefully used this site for self-promotion… see how deeply his book has been ‘discounted’… he apparently knows that the only way he can convince his publishers that it’s a good book is to ‘advertise’ it to the “local audience”, who actually knew the victims/players.  If that’s a role the VG wants to espouse, fine.  Just be aware how the site is being ‘used’.

          [Yeah, Tia, here I go “casting aspersions” again. But my gut tells me I’m not far off-the mark.]

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            It is pretty standard practice for authors to link their books and publications in the tagline. Claire Goldstene lists her book in her tagline as well, you didn’t seem to mind there.

            Ironically, you have drawn more attention to it than it would have generated had you said nothing.

        2. Michelle Millet

          mine is that Mr Billingsley purposefully used this site for self-promotion

          I understand that, but again it seem like what authors do, they go on book tours, they do interviews in magazines, newspapers, radio, and TV, all to promote their books. How is the Vanguard posting a link to Mr. Billingsley’s book any different then Terry Gross mentioning the name of the book of the author she is interviewing on NPR, or Jon Stewart showing the book of the authors he interviews on the Daily Show.

          In another piece published today on the VG Claire Goldstene’s book is mentioned, I don’t see you claiming that she is “using” the VG.

           

           

      2. Davis Progressive

        i just think you doth protest too much over nothing.  so that leads me to believe there is something you are protesting and that you tipped your hand with that post.  of all the things to point out from billingsley’s questionable work, you picked that one.

  3. Tia Will

    hpierce

    You just demonstrated my point beautifully. I do not speak for the “editorial board”. I speak only for myself and I guarantee you that I have no financial interest in the Vanguard or the writings of any author including myself since I receive no compensation at all either for articles, or for my participation on the editorial board. Also, the editorial board has no say whatsoever in what articles are published and which are not. We do not see articles prior to publicaton. I definitely  am not in support of the concepts contained in the writings of Mr.Billingley and more than I am in support of the filth put out by the Westboro Baptist Church, however, as I have stated many, many times, I feel that our first amendment applies to them and if the Vanguard has a policy to publish submitted articles the content of which I disagree, then they should be published whether I like the content or not. What I do not understand is your vitriolic tone and assumption making about my position. Since you obviously do not know where I stand on this issues, why not simply ask rather than attacking ?

    Once again your choice to cast aspersions on motive and make completely untrue statements about motivation undermines any shred of validity that your posts might have contained.

      1. Tia Will

        Certainly the editorial board is involved in drafting “policy guidelines”. And we invited the Vanguard readership to weigh in with their opinions regarding policy guidelines. My recommendation would be that if you take exception to an article because you feel it does not meet guidelines, that you direct the specific concern to either David or any member of the editorial board. If you feel that the “policy guidelines” are in error then this would also be addressed by the editorial board.

        I simply feel that well thought through, positive suggestions will almost always be met with a better reception and be more likely to be adopted than are non fact based and erroneous verbal attacks. Even in this I suspect that others on the editorial board may have a different perspective as we most certainly do not speak with one voice. The very implication in a post that one person’s comment is representative of “the editorial board” is therefore in and of its self erroneous and likely to be discounted by some without consideration of the underlying issue.

  4. Biddlin

    “Psychologist Deborah Schmidt found no evidence that Zoloft causes people to research serial killers, as Marsh did. He believed that there were too many people in the world and that the old were particularly useless. His crime, Schmidt testified, had been a case of “predatory violence, meticulously planned.” Marsh knew that Maupin and Northup were old and vulnerable and on April 14, 2013, they left their window open. He took that as an invitation. Psychologist James Rokop found Marsh to be a “sexual sadist” who derived pleasure from the infliction of pain. Indeed, one of his friends testified that he “liked to torture.” The autopsy report of forensic pathologist Dr. Mark Super confirms that Marsh did torture the victims beyond what he told police and beyond what emerged in court.”

    This is the only reasonable explanation of the murderer’s action and motive that I have read. I will probably not buy his book, but the author has painted a quite believable portrait of the crime, imo.

    Once again I am amazed at the gross insensitivity and gullibility of so-called educated posters. Since the arrest of Daniel Marsh, I have been sickened at times by the misplaced compassion for the murderer and lack of perspective on the crime. Now instead 0f discussing the article’s content, you all choose to create a diversion by discussing the publication policy of  the DV. It ain’t just a river in Egypt.

    hpierce, you should write and submit an article regarding the DV’s practices and standards and offer examples where you believe David is operating outside of his published policies, if one can derive any coherent meaning from his ramblings on the matter.

    For the rest of us, denying the existence of these disturbed individuals only allows the next predator and there is one, easier access to his targets. I will most likely be worm food when Marsh becomes eligible for parole, but the thought of him, at any age, living next to my grandchildren, is chilling.

    ;>)/

    1. hpierce

      I do not deny existence of the issues, and I have no problem with the judicial outcome.  I have been part of an investigation where a pregnant woman was stabbed, her baby lost, and her 3 year old son hacked to death.  I stepped over the drying blood, and saw the spatter around the crib.  Have you?  I am not in denial.  The crime was abhorrent.  Some folk cannot re-enter society.

      I believe Billingsley is an opportunist… cravenly so.  His posting of this book sale site, his regurgitation of the perpetrator’s mother’s name, and street of residence and the VG’s complicity in regurgitating those details offend me.  Sorry for your reaction to my narrow objections.

      I agree the basics of the story need to be told, and learned from.  I do not see a societal value in helping , perhaps a deviant and/or vigilante draw a bead on the family members not in custody.

      1. Davis Progressive

        “I believe Billingsley is an opportunist… cravenly so.  ”

        i agree.  i think his work is reprehensible and his conclusions suspect at best.  but you’ve diverted the attention from those points to a rather innocuous and seemingly widely practiced point of providing citation and links to books.

        1. Biddlin

          ”  i think his work is reprehensible and his conclusions suspect at best.”

          Reprehensible? How so? What do you conclude are the motives for this monstrous attack?Do you intend to write a rebuttal book? Do you  view Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” in that same light?

          ;>)/

        2. Davis Progressive

          for one thing he used a largely discredited theory of “superpreditors”

          i wrote this back in december…

          “Despite the revelations in the trial, Marsh’s insanity defense gained traction. “Where did the system fail Daniel Marsh?” asked a Sept. 18 editorial in the People’s Vanguard of Davis, arguing that the Davis School District needed more funding for mental health services.
          The trial, however, challenged that contention. Witnesses included two mental health counselors, a school psychologist, a school safety official and a sympathetic special education teacher, among others. Beyond the school system, Marsh was attended by social workers, therapists and psychiatrists. So it’s hard to see how he lacked support in the school and health care systems.”

          so his position is everyone did their job correctly, this was an unavoidable situation, and marsh was a monster and the laws prevent anyone from stopping him?  i also questioned whether billingsley had the qualifications and training to make such an evaluation.

      2. Biddlin

        An opportunist perhaps, working writers, those who rely on writing for their living, are always looking for a good story, but craven? He has put his work on display, for all to see, how is that craven? Your accusations of his facilitation of crimes against family members is a reach beyond belief.

        BTW, I found addresses and other personal information for a number of the principal characters in this drama, including Marsh’s mother, in a few minutes with simple internet searches and I’m an old Luddite, so a “deviant or vigilante would not need any general directions from the author.

        ;>)/

  5. TrueBlueDevil

    There is also the potential for brain damage and the slowed development of higher brain functions when teenagers use marijuana heavily. (Use Google.) How marijuana interacts with his other legal and illegal drugs is probably impossible to gauge.

    1. Biddlin

      There is also the potential for creating tremendously successful cartoons, painting masterpieces, writing epic poems or even becoming leader of the free world, perhaps the result of the same altered brain functions. Marsh is a defective person.

      ;>)/

  6. Tia Will

    I have been sickened at times by the misplaced compassion for the murderer and lack of perspective on the crime.”

    Personally I can never feel sickened by the expression of compassion for any  living being. Compassion to me is best described as the feeling of concern for the suffering of another being. It does not mean that you do not consider that person to be dangerous, or that they should not be isolated from society or that they should be in any way  excused from the full responsibility for their actions. What it means to me is that a human being is worthy of compassion as an expression of our humanity, not because of what they have or have not done, but because they are an imperfect being, just as we are all imperfect, and as deserving of compassion as any other human being when considered by the above definition of compassion.  In the case of Mr. Marsh, it would appear that he suffered greatly prior to the murders, and will now suffer greatly because of his actions. For that, I truly feel compassion for him. My apologies if that sickens anyone.

    1. Davis Progressive

      well said tia.  it seems we have gone so quickly to demonize human beings – particularly those who have done horrible things that we foget that they are still humans.  it is fine to have compassion and even mercy for people who have made terrible decisions and are probably inflicted with a number of serious problems.  to me that’s a separate issue from appropriate punishment

    2. Miwok

      Once again I am amazed at the gross insensitivity and gullibility of so-called educated posters.

      The comment you quoted and this one sums it up for me.

      In the case of Mr. Marsh, it would appear that he suffered greatly prior to the murders, and will now suffer greatly because of his actions. For that, I truly feel compassion for him.

      Until you have to be alone in a room with him.

      DP: those who have done horrible things that we forget that they are still humans.

      DP, When they repeatedly act out like this, they become more than human, they become predators. What is the punishment or rehabilitation for repeat offenders? Like a drug addict who repeatedly goes to rehab, you let them out and trust they “learned”, usually at the cost of another human trail of injury and death when they didn’t.

  7. Tia Will

    Until you have to be alone in a room with him.”

    This is completely irrelevant to whether or not one feels compassion. I had already stipulated that some people are so dangerous as to require isolation from others. That does not mean that we cannot feel compassion for them just as we do for their victims.

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        I agree that there should be compassion for all the families involved, and the friends, and anyone whose life has in anyway been negatively impacted by this terrible loss to the community. I simply do not see that compassion cannot also be felt for the perpetrator. As humans we have no limit of compassion that we can experience. No finite amount that will be used up if we “misplace” some of it. We are inherently violent beings, but we are also inherently compassionate beings. I feel that we strengthen our selves and our communities when we choose to utilize the compassionate side of our nature and injure and weaken ourselves and our communities when we allow the violent side of our nature to predominate.

        And in holding out the olive branch to you hpierce, I highly value your opinions here on the Vanguard. Your frequently make good points and have an expertise and viewpoint of which I am ignorant. Again, I feel that positive expressions of point of view are of greater value than negatively framed expressions. I know some disagree and this is, as are all my posts, a reflection only of my point of view, not representative of anyone else.

  8. Biddlin

    “That does not mean that we cannot feel compassion for them just as we do for their victims.”

    It’s the, “… feel compassion for them just as we do for their victims.”   Most egalitarian, but sorely misplaced. Perhaps reflection on the fact that the victims are beyond the effects of compassion might give you some different sense of propriety. Marsh is a predator. He does not possess any compassion, nor does he view it as anything but weakness, and it’s a catalyst for his predatory urges.

    ;>)/

     

  9. Tia Will

    Biddlin

    Marsh is a predator. He does not possess any compassion, nor does he view it as anything but weakness, and it’s a catalyst for his predatory urges.”

    Mr. Marsh is dangerous. On this we agree.  He did not demonstrate compassion. On this we agree. This does not mean that we should emulate his barbarity. His actions prove that he should be isolated from our society. To me this does not mean that we should debase ourselves by choosing , as he did, a course of revenge and cruelty. To me it is precisely in the face of such unthinkable cruelty that we as a society should attempt to rise to our highest standard of human behavior and demonstrate that even in the face of such evil we are capable of compassion while protecting ourselves from potential future acts of violence.

     

    1. Biddlin

      Who advocated revenge and cruelty? I certainly did not. Daniel Marsh is well fed, gets regular medical exams and most likely will be placed in a secure facility, where he will be protected from others like himself. Humane treatment requires no compassion, merely a code of conduct. I have a great deal more compassion for the thousands of mothers and children, mentally ill folks and veterans who will not be warm and safe tonight at the state’s expense, are at high-risk from predators, like Marsh
      and may well be run off of what ever piece of concrete they find for a bed.

      ;>)

      1. Davis Progressive

        even in pc until he’s 18 or 19, marsh will likely be pretty brutalized once he enters general population.  some people will naturally believe he gets what he deserves.  the treatment in prisons is substandard, particularly for the kinds of mental illness he suffers from.

  10. Biddlin

    ”  the treatment in prisons is substandard, particularly for the kinds of mental illness he suffers from.”

    Probably superior to the treatment homeless mentally ill persons receive, but certainly not adequate, if any treatment could be. My friend Marty(Martha) Chow, convicted for growing cannabis, died in prison from cervical cancer that, while diagnosed early, was never addressed or treated by the prison staff. My heart was broken. She never hurt a soul.

    ;>)/

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