Case Profile
JUSTICE DENIED: The Tragic Murder of Actress Dominique Dunne.
In 1982, Dominique Dunne was a young actress best known for her role in the movie Poltergeist. Her promising career was on the rise and her boyfriend was equally ambitious. Dominique had just ended her two year relationship with John Thomas Sweeney. Sweeney was an up-and-coming Chef in Los Angeles, who worked at Ma Maison and had even spent time working as Chef Wolfgang Puck’s chief assistant. In the beginning of their relationship, Dominique was thrilled by the things they had in common and their strong attraction to one another, but eventually Sweeney grew jealous and possessive. He panicked when Dominique had to do love scenes with male actors and began to show up on the set where she was working. Sweeney tried to assert more and more control over Dominique’s life and if she resisted, his fear of rejection would turn into anger. They often had long, bitter arguments and at the height of a quarrel he grabbed her by her hair so violently that handfuls of hair came out by the roots. She ran out of the house and went to her mother’s. Sweeney followed her and proceeded to bang on all of the doors and windows. A few days later, Dominique relented and went back to live with him.
It wasn’t long before they were fighting again, and this time Sweeney grabbed Dominique by the neck, threw her to the floor and began to strangle her. Thankfully, a friend sleeping in a nearby room heard Dominique’s loud, gagging noises and stopped him from killing her. Dominique managed to slip out of the bathroom window, and when Sweeney heard her car start up, he ran out of the house and flung himself in front of the car. She stopped long enough to let him jump off the hood and then raced away.