Riviera Beach Woman Murdered – ‘One of the Most Brutal Investigations I’ve Seen’

Terrell Strain, 21, is in the Palm Beach County jail charged with the murder of Riviera Beach woman Deborah Dunton, 69.

Police found her body in the bedroom of her home near Pine Ridge Drive on June 5, 2022, while performing a welfare check.

Investigators said a Walmart shopping bag appeared to have been tightened around her neck, and when the bag was removed, the woman’s face appeared to have been badly beaten, and she had multiple stab wounds to the lower abdomen.

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The medical examiner ruled Dunton’s death as a homicide due to asphyxia, and DNA evidence recovered from the scene linked Strain to Dunton’s killing, according to investigators.

Police believe she was killed during a robbery by Strain, who saw it as a crime of opportunity.

Police say the 10-month investigation involved obtaining search warrants, analyzing cell phone records, and locating key witnesses.

Terrell Strain

Strain was never considered a threat to the public during the investigation, as he was already in jail on unrelated charges.

Detectives said the investigation into the murder was brutal.

“In my time in the Strategic Investigations Division, this was definitely one of the most brutal investigations I myself investigated,” said Det. Kyle Culver, the lead detective in the case. “So the outcome and the arrest of Terrell Strain is extremely rewarding for us and both the victim’s family.”


According to the arrest report, a neighbor became concerned after Dunton failed to show up that morning to help him care for some stray cats. The neighbor said she’d do that daily at 6 a.m.

The man told investigators he spoke to Dunton by a landline telephone on June 4. At 9:30 the following day, when she failed to show up, he went to her back door, which he found locked. He went to the front door and found it unlocked. He went inside and described the house as a “mess.” The neighbors said the woman’s DVR recording system and .22 caliber revolver were missing. The neighbor said the woman also kept about $1,000 in cash in her home for emergencies.

The man said he called the Riviera Beach police, but officers didn’t go inside the residence.

The neighbor said he left the residence and returned around 11:30 a.m. because he feared something was wrong. He found multiple pillows on the woman’s bed. When he lifted one, he saw her leg. He raised another and saw her head covered with a bag. That’s when he called 911 again.

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Investigators located Dunton’s missing cell phone in the possession of a woman, who got it from another person. Police found the man, who stated he got the phone and a knife from a dark-skinned man, tall and thin with small twists in his hair.

He said he saw the unknown man one day earlier at the Riviera Beach City Marina.

The witness later identified Strain as the “unknown man” who borrowed the knife. The witness also identified the knife.

On June 9, police received a warrant to get DNA from Strain.

On June 17, detectives questioned Strain at the Palm Beach County Jail, where he was being held on unrelated charges. Strain refused to talk. And when a detective placed a photograph of Dunton on the table, Strain asked, “Who’s this woman?” He also said, “I don’t know this lady.”

Four days later, on June 21, police received a call from Strain at the jail. According to the arrest report, he told police that he and the murder victim used to have sex and that he’d known her since he was 17 and referred to her as “sweetheart.”

Another witness told investigators that he encountered Strain the morning after the murder. According to the arrest report, the witness said he approached Strain to sell him drugs. Strain said he didn’t have any money but had just robbed someone and had a firearm to sell while pointing to the trailer park where Dunton lived.

The witness said he took Strain to another person who bought the firearm. The witness said Strain also had a security camera DVR system that he took during the robbery. The witness said Strain tossed the DVR system into a dumpster.

A grand jury indicted Strain for murder and burglary. Court records show he entered a plea of not guilty.

“It’s our belief that it was a crime of opportunity. The victim’s residence was the closest to the Broadway corridor, and it’s our belief it was just a crime of opportunity. Get in and out as quick as possible,” said Riviera Beach Police Det. Kyle Culver.

Other stories you may want to read:

Pasco Sheriff: “This is Demonic”- Uber Eats Driver Murdered & Dismembered by MS-13 Gang Member

Bystander Saves Little Girl From Drowning at Florida Keys Resort While Mom Parties

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