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Old 10-02-2014, 07:41 PM   #46
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So is he dead or alive? Apparently some of you knew the guy.
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:43 AM   #47
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So is he dead or alive? Apparently some of you knew the guy.
My personal opinion is that he's dead. He killed himself because he knew sooner than later his scams were catching up to him.
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:49 PM   #48
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I always thought he faked his suicide based on the classified ad he made. I mean the guy was a live in con artist why should we take him at his word on his suicide? And if he was the real son then he had also killed once before
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Old 07-30-2016, 03:38 AM   #49
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I found a picture of Ellen's son Hugh from when he was a little kid. Kind of looks a bit evil in the eyes, don't you think?
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:26 PM   #50
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I had almost forgotten about this case, but I actually find it one of the more "haunting" ones on UM (one of many, lol). I mean, who the heck was this guy? How many other people did he swindle? Did he really get a "double" and kill said doppelganger and escape?

I know it sounds outlandish, but I actually do NOT think Tondevold committed suicide...I know the "hiring a double" theory is insane, but I just don't think con artists are usually the type to kill themselves. They generally don't seem to feel one iota of remorse, and it seems like most other criminals only kill themselves when they are literally trapped by police, as in during a standoff situation or something of the sort where they physically have no other option than to "win" by killing themselves.

I think Tondevold would only have offed himself if and only if he was truly 110% "caught" by police and had zero other possible options.

Con artists in particular are always scheming and planning and looking for that next opportunity to lie, cheat and steal -- I just don't think Tondevold chose to end it then and there.

But one never knows! Really want to know more about this case...
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:34 AM   #51
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I know it sounds outlandish, but I actually do NOT think Tondevold committed suicide...I know the "hiring a double" theory is insane, but I just don't think con artists are usually the type to kill themselves. They generally don't seem to feel one iota of remorse, and it seems like most other criminals only kill themselves when they are literally trapped by police, as in during a standoff situation or something of the sort where they physically have no other option than to "win" by killing themselves.
It wouldn't have been the first time someone faked their own death with someone else's body...
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Old 04-11-2017, 09:46 AM   #52
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Certainly a lot of new information in the Amazon version. The info about the race horses I had never seen before.

I always liked Pete Ballard, I had seen the Muhammad comment before on another running of the segment elsewhere but it always makes me crack up when I hear it.
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Old 04-25-2017, 12:29 AM   #53
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I posted this in another thread, new here. Years ago, I was discussing this case with some folks when I lived in the Charleston area. One lady stated that Tondevold had a criminal record that was requested by investigators following his suicide.

Completely forgot about this case until I watched the episode the other day. Sure enough, Tondevold was convicted of extortion in 1954. It appears that a condition of his sentence required him to check into a "mental hospital".

Possible he befriended Hugh during this time and began correspondence with the Berry's?

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Pleads Guilty To Extortion LAS VEGAS. Dan Tondevold, 20-year-old Las Vegas high school graduate, will appear before Judge A. S. Henderson Jan. 21 for, sentencing after he entered a plea of guilty to a charge of attempting to extort $1200 from a local businessman. Tondevold admitted his guilt as he appeared in district court Tuesday. His intended victim, Roy Quenzer, a master baker, had told police that he didn't even know the youth. Court attaches said that Tondevold may be committed to a special hospital for mental treatment as a condition of probation
Article from the Reno Gazette-Journal
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Old 04-25-2017, 12:20 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by SertumAEnigmA
I posted this in another thread, new here. Years ago, I was discussing this case with some folks when I lived in the Charleston area. One lady stated that Tondevold had a criminal record that was requested by investigators following his suicide.

Completely forgot about this case until I watched the episode the other day. Sure enough, Tondevold was convicted of extortion in 1954. It appears that a condition of his sentence required him to check into a "mental hospital".

Possible he befriended Hugh during this time and began correspondence with the Berry's?



Article from the Reno Gazette-Journal
Wow. Thanks for that extra information. And welcome!
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Old 05-02-2017, 03:35 PM   #55
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Default The yearbook isn't related to the case. It's a distraction!

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The name Dan Tondevold came up in that Las Vegas High School Yearbook back in the 50's didn't it? it must have been his real name.
Folks, the yearbook from Las Vegas proves absolutely nothing. It has no link to this case whatsoever. All that yearbook shows is that some kid named Tondevold went to a school in Las Vegas. There's no evidence linking that child to the people in Mrs Berry's life.

At most, the con-artist who robbed her probably heard the name 'Tondevold' and used it as an alias. Con-artists almost always use aliases so it's highly unlikely that the guy who robbed Mrs Berry was really born 'Tondevold'. He'd hardly be dumb enough to use his birth name while committing the scam. And he certainly wasn't the child from Las Vegas - there's no evidence of that.

To solve this case we need to move on from the irrelevant distraction of the yearbook.

In my view, I think the 'Tondevold is Mrs Berry's long lost son' theory is still very much on the table and hasn't been properly tested and debunked. That theory would explain how he was able to manipulate Mrs Berry so well - i.e. because as he was her own child!! And the age of the con-artist is certainly consistent.

He had the means (He sure knew a lot more about Mrs Berry and her finances than some random vagrant who turned up at her house)

He had the motive (Jealousy at being cut out of the inheritance, as discussed in the segment)

He had the opporunity (He came from a family of smart, resourceful people and clearly knew how to manipulate Mrs Berry, i.e. his Mom)
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Old 05-02-2017, 03:43 PM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1990 UM fan
I found a picture of Ellen's son Hugh from when he was a little kid. Kind of looks a bit evil in the eyes, don't you think?
That child's eyes and facial structures look a lot more like Mrs Berry's scammer, don't cha think? I'm telling you kids, the son and the scammer are the same guy
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Old 05-02-2017, 04:04 PM   #57
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That child's eyes and facial structures look a lot more like Mrs Berry's scammer, don't cha think? I'm telling you kids, the son and the scammer are the same guy
It's a strong argument. This picture bears a striking similarity to Dan Tondevold.
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Old 05-02-2017, 04:04 PM   #58
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Ellen McClung Berry's papers are all at the University of Tennessee archives. Here's the finding aid: http://dlc.lib.utk.edu/spc/view?docI...rint;chunk.id=

It doesn't look like there's much to it, but it does list Mrs. Berry's correspondence dating up to 1985, so I would bet there's at least some info about her dealings with Tondevold in there.

Personally I've always assumed he killed the man in the field and shed his old identity in the process. He had plenty of time and seemingly unlimited amounts of money with which to craft a new identity prior to the supposed "suicide." Mrs. Berry was sadly the perfect victim for this type of crime: no children, extremely elderly, and wealthy.
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Old 05-03-2017, 11:03 AM   #59
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There really is no mystery here. Pretty cut and dry if you ask me.

Quote:
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Folks, the yearbook from Las Vegas proves absolutely nothing. It has no link to this case whatsoever. All that yearbook shows is that some kid named Tondevold went to a school in Las Vegas. There's no evidence linking that child to the people in Mrs Berry's life.
Not according to Mrs. Berry and associates of the family. According to Mrs. Berry, both she and her husband had befriended Tondevold on a trip to Reno. They corresponded with him on-and-off for the next fifteen years.

Two newspaper articles further corroborates her claim and places him in Reno.

Quote:
At most, the con-artist who robbed her probably heard the name 'Tondevold' and used it as an alias. Con-artists almost always use aliases so it's highly unlikely that the guy who robbed Mrs Berry was really born 'Tondevold'. He'd hardly be dumb enough to use his birth name while committing the scam. And he certainly wasn't the child from Las Vegas - there's no evidence of that.

To solve this case we need to move on from the irrelevant distraction of the yearbook.
The case is solved. We need to move on from unsubstantiated claims injected solely to raise a possible, yet highly unlikely theory. The simple fact that in all this time, only one Dan Tondevold has been located and all records point to the same man. If your theory were true, certainly the one Dan Tondevold who has been found to exist or his family would have come forward to clear his name.

One birth record and one death record. Numerous newspaper articles that put Dan Tondevold between Reno and Las Vegas Nevada. Dan Tondevold also has a sketchy past. He was convicted of extortion and it is quite possible he was institutionalized for a period of time.


Quote:
In my view, I think the Tondevold is Mrs Berry's long lost son' theory is still very much on the table and hasn't been properly tested and debunked. That theory would explain how he was able to manipulate Mrs Berry so well - i.e. because as he was her own child!! And the age of the con-artist is certainly consistent.
Except there is no evidence of such. It's aimless unsubstantiated speculation at best.

The Berry's were well known and had a large circle of friends and family, most who knew Hugh into adulthood. None of the people who actually knew Hugh speculated that he was Tondevold. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Berry had a poor relationship with their son from the time he was a teenager. It has also been well established that Hugh was an impulsive hot tempered violent criminal.


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He had the means (He sure knew a lot more about Mrs Berry and her finances than some random vagrant who turned up at her house)
Actually it appears Hugh and the his parents were pretty alienated, even from a young age and by her admission their relationship was strained early on. Also, Dan Tondevold wasn't a random vagrant. Records indicate that he had corresponded with Berrys for over fifteen years and lived with her for six years following Mr. Berry's death.


Quote:
He had the motive (Jealousy at being cut out of the inheritance, as discussed in the segment)
He was cut of both the inheritance of his grandmother and his parents.


Quote:
He had the opporunity (He came from a family of smart, resourceful people and clearly knew how to manipulate Mrs Berry, i.e. his Mom)
Except none of that describes Hugh. By all accounts, Hugh was a not-so-bright violent criminal. I suspect he suffered from mental illness, which back then wasn't quite understood and he lacked proper treatment. Also, it appears the Berrys all but disowned him. Likely because he didn't fit in with the old money southern crowd and was a liability to their social status. They shipped him off every chance they got, starting from childhood. Probably to compensate for this and ease their guilty conscience, they assisted disadvantaged youths and other young men less fortunate that were perhaps more appreciative of their blessings.

There are a few things that most folks don't take into consideration regarding this case. To begin with, Dan Tondevold and Mrs. Berry had a long relationship. There is more to this than simple fraud. I'm confident that Mrs. Berry felt guilty about Hugh and Dan Tondevold was an eccentric and they used each other. The moment Mrs. Berry signed over power-of-attorney, Dan Tondevold was virtually immune from criminal liability.

I think people miss that Tondevold had expensive taste and lived with Mrs. Berry for over six years. Let's be honest, he blew over a million dollars on horses. I suspect Tondevold was a failed actor and was infatuated with living the high life. Probably had longed to be an actor or some celebrity, didn't make it and got cozy with a rich old couple who had felt guilty over their son. He played off this role as some wealthy businessman and mingled in the upper class. Over time, his expensive tastes and probably numerous business ventures burned through the Berry's fortune and once he squeezed every last dime. Once there wasn't another dollar in credit to get, no more comps, upgrades and not another drop of champagne, he killed himself.

It seemed much more mysterious when it aired on Unsolved Mysteries, but really only one Dan Tondevold has been shown to exist. The one we know exists, was convicted of extortion and was likely institutionalized for some time. As I said before, he was likely an eccentric, probably dreamed of making it big in Hollywood. Probably did some time in prison or in a mental hospital. Was fortunate enough to meet the Berry's. Maybe he met Hugh in prison and was introduced to them through him. He used Mrs. Berry to live his dream of living rich and high on the food chain. She used him as the son she always wanted, but never had. He burned through her cash. When the cash was gone, he has no skill, no money and nothing left.

I think maybe in a way he cared for Mrs. Berry. Perhaps he placed the ad in the paper hoping someone would befriend her or take care of her? But she had no money left, so the ruse was up.

Kinda sad if you ask me.
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Old 05-03-2017, 11:36 AM   #60
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Just based on the physical images I've seen, Dan Tondevold doesn't facially resemble the photos of Hugh Berry in the aftermath of the attack/murder. I've never thought they were the same person, and while the circumstances of Hugh's death might seem mysterious to some, there's no evidence that he was alive after 1963.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SertumAEnigmA
There are a few things that most folks don't take into consideration regarding this case. To begin with, Dan Tondevold and Mrs. Berry had a long relationship. There is more to this than simple fraud. I'm confident that Mrs. Berry felt guilty about Hugh and Dan Tondevold was an eccentric and they used each other. The moment Mrs. Berry signed over power-of-attorney, Dan Tondevold was virtually immune from criminal liability.
Thanks for the information that you've provided. I agree; unfortunately Tondevold was adept at manipulating Mrs. Berry's sympathies over the years of their friendship.
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