Left and Center: Danyel circa, 1985
Right: Age Progressed to age 29
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: November 2, 1985
Missing From: West Sacramento, Yolo County, California
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: July 23, 1982
Age: 3 years old
Height and Weight: 3’0″ and 45 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Blonde hair, Blue eyes, Danyel has a rust colored birthmark birthmark with a length of one by two inches in size on her kneecap and both of her ears are pierced, Danyel’s hair was short when she disappeared
NCMEC Number: 604481
Details of Disappearance
Danyel Sparpana was last seen alive on November 2nd 1985 in West Sacramento, California. She was last seen inside of her family’s home in the 1900 block of Manzanita Way.
On November 5th 1985, Danyel’s mother, Cynthia Mullennix Sparpana was found slain inside of the home by police. She was beaten and shot in the back of her head. She had been dead for approximately 2 to 3 days by the time her body was discovered.
While nothing belonging to Danyel was missing from the home, there were sightings of her in the neighborhood between the day her mother was killed and the day her body was found. She was never seen again afterwards. Investigators believe that Danyel was abducted by whoever killed her mother.
Lionel Ernest Tholmer Jr. was quickly named a suspect in Cynthia’s murder and Danyel’s disappearance. He was an acquaintance of her family and was at one point Cynthia’s boyfriend. Investigators believe that Tholmer was responsible for the murders of the Sparpana’s and the November 1985 killing of John B. Meadows. Meadows was actually Tholmer’s ex wife’s stepfather.
Investigators believe that Tholmer attempted to frame John for Cynthia and Danyel’s murders. Tholmer originally resided in the state of Georgia but loved to Sacramento in the mid 1980s to work at McClellan Air Force Base.
In 1987, Tholmer was convicted of killing John Meadows. He was sentenced to life in prison for the crime. He was also charged and convicted of killing Cynthia and Danyel in 1992. His lawyers and attorney argued that he was not responsible for Cynthia’s death and that Danyel was still alive. There were various unconfirmed sightings of her after her mothers murder.
He was nevertheless convicted and was originally sentenced to death for the crimes. His sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He remains in prison for his crimes.
Danyel’s remains have not been found but investigators suspect she was the victim of foul play.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
West Sacramento Police Department 916-375-6474
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children