A Norfolk, Virginia, man has pleaded guilty for his role in an attempted revenge killing carried out by his longtime partner, who disguised herself as a UPS driver and shot a D.C. woman she mistakenly believed was responsible for her son’s murder.
John Nelson McQuillen, 65, pleaded guilty Friday in D.C. Superior Court to accessory after the fact to assault with intent to kill. Sentencing is set for June 24. He faces a maximum of 7 and 1/2 years in prison.
Last November, McQuillen and his partner, Tommie Lynn Dunmire, drove from Norfolk to the D.C. woman’s Kingman Park home, where, prosecutors said, Dunmire donned a brown vest and baseball cap and carried a cardboard box to the woman’s front door, knocking and announcing herself as a UPS delivery driver.
When the woman opened the door, Dunmire fired two shots from a silver revolver she was holding inside of an opening cut in the back of the box.
Dunmire and McQuillen then took off in a Honda Pilot SUV, authorities said, and McQuillen helped change the license plates on their vehicle in an apparent attempt to evade police.
When D.C. police stopped their vehicle soon after in the 1400 block of Florida Avenue Northeast, Dunmire shot herself in the head. She died in a hospital two weeks later.
The woman Dunmire shot — who authorities said had nothing to do with the death of Dunmire’s son — was struck twice in the abdomen but survived.
The bizarre series of events was an apparent case of mistaken identity.
‘I had to drive her’
McQuillen and Dunmire had an adult son, Matthew Dunmire, who was shot to death in a nature preserve in Cleveland, Ohio, near where he lived, in March 2021. McQuillen later told police he and Dunmire were frustrated and growing impatient with the investigation into their son’s death, and that Dunmire began conducting her own investigation.
As she continued her “research,” McQuillen told police Dunmire’s mental state began deteriorating and she expressed rage and a desire to confront — and to kill — the woman she believed was responsible for the murder.
At first, McQuillen denied to police that he knew what Dunmire was planning to do, and believed it was all talk. He told authorities he “didn’t know what she was going to do but I had to drive her. I had to go with her.”
McQuillen, who was arrested in Virginia last month and taken to D.C., remains detained until sentencing.
His attorney, Jamison Koehler, had requested McQuillen be released until sentencing, writing in a filing that the accusations against McQuillen are “based largely not on what he did (he was not charged with shooting or conspiring to shoot the complainant) but on what he did not do” — immediately call police after the shooting and turn Dunmire in.
The defense attorney said McQuillen has no history of violent crime and called the circumstances of the shooting “a sad and extraordinarily unusual course of events — the murder of his son and the suicide of his longtime companion in his presence — that would be impossible to repeat.”
As it turned out, the FBI made an arrest in the killing of Dunmire and McQuillen’s son, Matthew, one month after Dunmire took her own life.
The suspect in that killing is 31-year-old Chelsea Perkins, who has an address in Alexandria, Virginia. She has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Prosecutors say in federal court filings that Perkins, a former U.S. Coast Guard member and mother of two young children, accused Matthew Dunmire of rape in 2017. A month before he was shot to death, she messaged a friend on Facebook hinting about apparently getting revenge.
According to court filings, she wrote to a friend, “How … does he live with himself” and “He will get his someday.”
Perkins has pleaded not guilty.