Fatal shooting: Suspect says he shot in self-defense, admitted to using meth at house prior to incident

Court documents filed last week in connection with a murder case against 42-year-old Theoodsia resident Brian Dunaway give further details into the fatal June 13 early-morning shooting. 

The probable cause statement, prepared by Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Rhoades, explains that the deputy was assigned to a call of a shooting at a residence on County Road 827, west of Gainesville, at 4:35 a.m. that morning. 

It was reported that 27-year-old Dewayne “Ed” Wessel was dead as a result of the incident. 

Rhoades arrived and found Wessell’s body lying on the floor inside the residence. Deputies attempted life saving measures, but they were unsuccessful. 

Rhoades made contact with Dunaway, who the officer recognized from past interactions, the report says. 

“Brian stated he shot another male in self-defense. My current investigation has led me to believe this is to be the case,” Rhoades’s report explains. “…but during the investigation I located in plain view a green waterproof type of container with a clear plastic bag containing a white crystal-like substance, which I recognized with my training and experience as amphetamines.” 

Dunaway was read his Miranda rights, and the suspect reportedly told the officer that he had been using methamphetamines the night before. 

The container where the drugs were found was located in a recliner that Dunaway referred to as his “bed,” the report says. He told the officer he didn’t know there was any meth left in the container, as he thought he’d used it all the night before. 

Dunaway agreed to allow officers to draw his blood for chemical analysis. He was transported to the Ozark County Jail, where he is currently being held. 

The firearm, a black semi-automatic handgun, was recovered, and Dunaway admitted that the firearm was his. 

Although the official court records do not mention circumstances involving a domestic violence situation prior to the shooting, the log made by a dispatcher during the call and a Facebook post made by the Ozark County Sheriff’s page after the incident both refer to a violent incident. 

The dispatcher’s log says that Dunaway called 911 at 4:35 a.m. and said that he had shot and killed Wessell. He said the gun he used had been unloaded and was lying on top of a truck. 

Dunaway then reportedly explained what led to the shooting, telling the dispatcher that Wessell was drunk and talking about committing suicide - then went after his (Wessell’s) fiancé and began choking her and trying to kill her. He said that is what led him to shoot Wessell.

The post about the incident on the Ozark County Sheriff’s page explains the incident in similar terms:

“…Interviews were completed at the Sheriff’s Office, and it was found that the male suspect, Mr. Dunaway, had witnessed a domestic assault between the deceased and the deceased’s girlfriend.  Mr. Dunaway asked the male to stop and the male then turned-on Mr. Dunaway and began charging at him.  Mr. Dunaway shot the male and awaited the arrival of law enforcement,” the post says.

The Ozark and Douglas County Sheriff’s Departments and Missouri Highway Patrol are involved in the investigation. 

Wessell was pronounced dead at 6 a.m. June 13, by Ozark County Coroner Gene Britt. His body was sent to Ozark where an autopsy will be performed, as is customary with homicide cases. It will likely be several weeks before results are released. 

Dunaway is charged with the class A felony of murder in the second-degree, the class E felony of possessing a firearm and methamphetamine at the same time and the class D felony of possession of methamphetamine. He is being held in the Ozark County Jail without bond. 

He was arraigned before Associate Circuit Judge Raymond Gross and is scheduled to appear for a bond reduction hearing at 1 p.m. today, June 22. 

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423