On June 5, 1983, William Hughes peered through a sliding glass door into the master bedroom of the Ryen family’s house in Chino Hills. He spotted the bloodied body of his 11-year-old son Christopher, who had spent the night with the family. Nearby were Peggy and Doug Ryen, hacked and slashed to death. Eight-year-old Joshua Ryen lay on the floor, his throat slit, but alive. Out of sight in the hall was Jessica Ryen, 10, no longer breathing.

Family photo of Chino Hills family Doug, Peggy and Jessica Ryen and eight-year-old Joshua Ryen, (sitting on horse), who was the lone survivor of hatchet the attack. (File courtesy photo, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Two days before the killings, Kevin Cooper had escaped from a prison in Chino Hills, where he was serving a sentence fro burglary.  Police found evidence – cigarette butts, a button from a prison uniform, a leather hatchet sheath – that Copper had spent two days in a house near the Ryen’s property after his espcape from CIM.

He was arrested about seven weeks after the killings.  At the trial, jurors heard the lone survivor give a videotaped statement that conflicted with what he had said when he was first interviewed with hospital staff and San Bernadino detectives.  Josh Ryen mentioned in his first statements that he saw 3 white or hispanic individuals in the house the night of the murders.  More statements and evidence were later turned into authorities -that would later not be used in Kevin Cooper’s trials to support his case.




YouTube Video / 48 Hrs Documentary

The Daily Podcast by The New York Times | Kevin Cooper

The Opinion | New York Times by Nicholas Kristoff 

Scapegoat by J. Patrick O’Connor


7 thoughts on “EP. 32 The Chino Hills Massacre | The True Crime & Paranormal Aftermath of the Ryen Family | Kevin Cooper

  1. Hi! I have been binge listening to your podcast and j’adore!! ESPECIALLY the soap box rants. ?? I just listened to episode 32 and felt a comment or two was in order. I lived in Brea CA. from age 3 to my mid to late 20’s my family still lives there and I visit often.

    When I was young my mom would take me out to Chino Hills to see the horses and livestock… essentially a free petting zoo. We would drive thru Sleepy Hollow, a small, hippy outpost in the 80s, on our way to chino hills. I always had an eerie feeling going thru there, I am super sensitive to spirits especially as a child. There used to be hot springs and a spa out there too.

    Carbon Canyon Road is a beautiful stretch of road that makes you feel like you have left the city behind, that land is still owned by oil companies so it hasn’t yet been developed. If I had a dollar for every time I saw something/someone unexpected I could go on a long European vacation.

    Toward the beginning of the road in Brea there is a turnout and a historical plaque stating that the creek that runs there was a camping place for Portola and 60 men in 1769. At the time the area was a vibrant village of native Americans, and probably not “ancient sacred burial ground.” (Please don’t blame us for all hauntings! Ain’t no Indian got time for all that haunting!?)

    Once, a man shot himself in a car by the memorial in the 2000’s I don’t remember the exact year. We just so happened to be driving on the road a few times that same day and I kept freaking out cuz the car really bothered me. The car and man were soon found by police.

    On the side of the road down the embankment there are/were remains of cars that went off the road and were never recovered. I just looked up the road online and there are soooo many articles about fatal accidents and suicides on that road plus a claim that it is the most haunted road in California, how could it not be?? I don’t know about all that (or a new rumor that there was a secret government lab doing horrible genetic experiments on animals and humans. Once the lab was shut down they let loose all the test subjects??) but I do know I have seen some pretty scary and startling things including hitchhikers who disappear as you drive past and people wandering the road when the moon is really bright and full (TRUE STORY)!!

    If you ever visit the road don’t forget to visit Spadra Cemetery just north of brea canyon road. My husband and his friends would hang out there and party late at night and they have plenty of creepy stories to tell.
    And there is also a swimming hole around there (gotta park in a business parking lot and walk a bit) that’s pretty spooky too.

    2 more side notes:
    1. my parents house in brea is super haunted and my best friend was the ghost of a little boy my mom used to see in our backyard. That whole area was once orange groves and before that native villages. So much activity all over that area.
    2. My husband’s grandmother lived on Hubbard St. in East LA right across the street from where Richard Ramirez was captured. The house that the “hauntings” of the teen boy occurred in was completely renovated and upscaled after the capture, when the family received the reward money ?. Could that be the reason they had to move for a while?? and with all the new found wealth the dad did start to party again. But grandma Rosa had nothing but nice things to say about the family!

    ?? and “NO ME TOCAS”

    Michelle Rodriguez

    1. I member driving by the hot springs, I never went because there were bikers, real bikers not weekenders. And yes it was a hippie enclave. I also remember that the lab was doing some bad stuff there. Even the city of Brea at that time was for hippies, druggies and cheap housing. Now everyone and their grandmother who live in Brea have a stick up their arse.

      When I was a child In Santa Ana my mom always warned us about killers clowns, murderers at a chicken ranch somewhere in Norco. When the Chino prison murders happened it reminded me of the chicken ranch murders.

      I do believe in spirits who restlessly roam and the Devil/evil.

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