Charles Dials, 18, was a victim of armed carjacking and murder by escaped felon, Alva Campbell Jr., Campbell had been on parole for a murder he had committed 20 years earlier
Charles Dials, 18, was known as a “father figure” to his brother Joe and sister Kayela. Charles had stepped up into the role of family supporter, helping his mother Arlena Hughes, after his father had walked out on the family.
On April 2, 1997, Charles Dials, 18, crossed paths with convicted murderer Alva Campbell Jr. Dials was at the Franklin County Ohio Municipal Court building paying a $95 traffic ticket for having a headlight out on his pickup.
The History of Alva Campbell Jr.
Alva Campbell, Jr. was born on April 30, 1948. He was one of six children. As children, Alva Campbell Jr. and his siblings suffered repeated violent attacks and sexual abuse by their father. He had been sexually abusing the children himself and prostituting the children out. Mrs. Campbell, a severe alcoholic, did nothing to stop the abuse. Campbell Sr. was convicted of the rape and abuse and the children entered foster care when it the courts found out that Mrs. Campbell was unfit to care for them.
In 1967, Campbell Jr. was convicted of a string of armed robberies and shooting an Ohio state trooper. The officer survived the attack. Campbell, 16 years old at the time, was tried and convicted as an adult.
In 1972, Campbell was out on parole when he robbed a tavern in Cleveland and murdered the bartender, William Dovalosky. Campbell was convicted of the robbery and murder. A judge sentenced him to life for the crimes.
The parole board granted Campbell’s release in 1992. In 1997, he committed an aggravated robbery and was arrested for it.
The Murder of Charles Dials
According to court records, on April 2, 1997, Franklin County Deputy Sheriff Teresa Harrison was transporting Campbell to his arraignment for the aggravated robbery charge. Records state Campbell was faking paralysis and was being transported in a wheelchair. When Deputy Harrison was assisting Campbell out of the vehicle, he assaulted her, stole her weapon, and fled the scene on foot.
Campbell then encountered Charles Dials and committed the armed carjacking. Campbell had stated to Dials, “I don’t want to hurt you. Just move over.”
According to Campbell’s confession, when he left the courthouse complex, he drove Dials and his pickup truck to a local K-Mart parking lot. Campbell spoke with Dials, encouraging him not to be nervous. They left the parking lot, driving to a neighboring factory parking lot, where Campbell robbed Dials of money and exchanged clothing. Campbell then drove to a store and bought a forty-ounce bottle of beer and returned to the K-Mart parking lot. Campbell stated he spoke with Dials for approximately 2 hours. Campbell drove around to the back of the K-Mart building, where he instructed Dials to get down on the passenger floorboard. Once he was down, Campbell shot Dials two times, killing him.
Campbell drove back around to the front of the building and waited for his next victim. A woman named Katie Workman entered the parking lot and unknowingly parked near Campbell. Campbell attempted to kidnap her but was unsuccessful. He managed to rob her of her wallet and car keys. Campbell drove Workman’s car to a shopping center parking lot that was nearby.
Campbell left the shopping center in Workman’s car but was soon spotted by a police officer. After a vehicle pursuit, Campbell left the car on foot and attempted to hide in a tree. Officers took him into custody. Campbell would later make a videotaped confession.
The court indicted Alva Campbell, Jr. on four counts of aggravated murder, which contained the specifications of murder to escape detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment; felony-murder predicated on aggravated robbery, felony-murder predicated on kidnapping; and having a prior murder conviction. He was also indicted on ten additional noncapital counts.
The court combined all the counts and convicted him of capital murder. Campbell was given the death sentence by lethal injection. He immediately filed an appeal, and it was denied. A copy of that lengthy appeal (which includes details of his early childhood) can be found below.
His day of execution was set for November 15, 2017. At the time, Campbell had several illnesses, which made his execution impossible. After repeated attempts in Campbell’s arms and legs, prison officials could not find a suitable vein to carry out the lethal injection sentence, so his execution was delayed.
A new day of execution was scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, 2019. However, due to his illnesses, Alva Campbell, Jr. died at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio, on March 3, 2018.
The family of Charles Dials received a $1.3 million settlement from Franklin County for how Campbell’s custody was handled and the ease of his escape, which resulted in Dials’ death. Joe Dials, Charles’ younger brother, stated, “He was an awesome big brother, the go-to guy. Everybody loved him. It was a devastating blow to our family, losing him. It was nothing I would wish on my worst enemy.”