Kerry Lyn Dalton: Where is Irene Melanie’s Killer Now?

Image Credit: Victoria Ann Thorpe

‘Women On Death Row: Kerry Lyn Dalton’ features the story of a convicted killer Kerry Lyn Dalton, who was charged with the torture and murder of Irene Melanie May in late June 1988. She reportedly brutally tortured Irene before killing and disposing of her body with the help of two accomplices in Live Oak Springs, California. However, she has been proclaiming her innocence for almost three decades, with her activist sister and a significant online vocal group of supporters by her side. If you wish to discover more about the case, let’s begin.

Who Is Kerry Lyn Dalton?

Kerry Lyn Dalton was born in Van Nuys, California, on January 24, 1959. On June 25, 1988, Irene Melanie May was evicted from her Lakeside apartment, with her husband, Bobby May, incarcerated at the time. Sheryl Baker — previously convicted of grand theft auto and a crystal methamphetamine user — was helping her move her belongings amid drug use. Several individuals, including Kerry and a man named George, helped Irene and Sheryl. Court records showed Kerry used to live with Irene and her family at one point.

Kerry angrily told Sheryl much of the furniture in Irene’s apartment was hers, and she wanted it. She was also looking for some pieces of jewelry. Sheryl told her she would look for her property, and Kerry left. Around 5:00 pm, Kerry arrived with Mark “TK” Tompkins in a small yellow pickup truck at a convenience store, where Sheryl, Irene, and George had also assimilated. The six individuals embarked on an alleged trip to steal a car that culminated in an encounter with Joanne Fedor, who was dealing with vehicle trouble with her young children.

Joanne testified the group arrived at her mobile home park in Live Oak Springs, California, at about 2:30 am on June 26. Sheryl claimed they stayed up all night, and some individuals used drugs. At some point, Kerry emptied Irene’s purse and “found some of her jewelry.” It set off a series of events during which tensions escalated, tempers flared, and Irene was subjected to Kerry’s commands of washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. Irene’s situation grew increasingly dire as she started feeling trapped and scared of Kerry.

Throughout the night and the following morning, court records showed Kerry’s apparent dominance and the others seemed to comply with her orders. Sheryl, Mark, and George briefly left the trailer to repair a truck while Irene’s health deteriorated, causing concern among the group. Medical assistance was sought, and emergency medical technicians arrived at Joanne’s trailer. Mark attempted to manage the situation, assuring the emergency respondent that everything was fine, while Joanne sought an inhaler.

After some time, Sheryl, Mark, and George drove Joanne and her children to visit her incarcerated husband at La Cima Honor Camp. She believed they would pick her up after visitation hours, but they failed to do so. Thus, she and her children hitchhiked back home. Sheryl claimed she and Mark went to a home in Lakeside before learning that police had visited Joanne’s trailer due to concerns about her children. Mark returned from making a panic phone call, insisting they return to the trailer.

Image Credit: Victoria Ann Thorpe

Despite Sheryl’s reluctance, they headed back, with Mark cryptically expressing that “things happen for a reason” and to “go with the flow.” Upon their return to the trailer around 3:30 pm, they found George outside and Kerry inside. A mysterious figure was in the kitchen, covered by a sheet and bound to a chair. Kerry appeared distressed and informed Sheryl that something had occurred in her absence, alluding to a sinister concern involving Irene. Kerry directed Sheryl to a bathroom where syringes filled with alleged battery acid were laid out.

She ominously conveyed her plan to inject Irene with the battery acid, promising it would be a swift and painless death. She manipulated Sheryl by suggesting that if she participated, she would be considered guilty also and dissuading her from speaking out. Returning to the kitchen, Kerry attempted to sedate Irene but was unsuccessful in finding a vein. Frustration mounted, and Kery struck Irene’s leg with the syringe. However, she remained alive and in agony, prompting further brutality.

Kerry Lyn Dalton Remains Incarcerated

Kerry handed Sheryl a cast iron frying pan, instructing her to hit Irene. She complied, striking Irene in the head, resulting in the pan breaking but causing no bleeding. Recognizing the severity of the situation, Kerry decided to involve Mark. Upon his return, he chastised both women before he and Kerry proceeded to stab Irene multiple times. After a failed attempt to suffocate her using an extension cord with bare ends, Irene was wrapped in a carpet and placed in George’s truck. Kerry and Sheryl took showers and cleaned the trailer.

Mark later revealed he had dismembered her body and disposed of it in a nearby Indian reservation to hinder discovery. Joanne testified about the unsettling state of her trailer when she returned between 5:00 and 5:30 pm. Irene’s belongings were missing, the kitchen was in disarray, and Sheryl was cleaning the floor with shampoo. Kerry, claiming to have accidentally cut herself, explained that they had taken some items for washing. She also asserted that Mark and George had taken Irene back to Lakeside.

Mark and George returned to the trailer, and the group eventually left, discarding incriminating items at a gas station. They then sold belongings in El Cajon before checking into a hotel. Sherri Fisher, who had interacted with Irene and Sheryl, recalled Sheryl’s agitated state and her cryptic confession about a slow death that wouldn’t end. Days later, Kerry visited Sherri’s home, seeking Irene’s belongings. Marsha Watson, Sherri’s mother, testified about Sheryl’s erratic behavior and her arrival with papers belonging to Irene and some boys.

Based on witness testimonies, forensic evidence, and subsequent investigation, Kerry, Mark, and Sherryl were charged with Irene’s murder, even though the body was never recovered. On October 31, 1991, Joanne identified the trio from photographic lineups as individuals who had been at her trailer. Kerry and her co-perpetrators were jointly charged, but her trial was severed. Mark pled guilty to first-degree murder. Sheryl pled guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for testifying at the 1995 trial against Kerry.

Image Credit: Victoria Ann Thorpe

Kerry was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder on May 23, 1995. The jury also found true lying in-wait and torture-murder special-circumstance allegations and an allegation that she used a deadly weapon in committing the murder. She was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 1995. The California Supreme Court released its verdict on Dalton’s automatic appeal on May 16, 2019. The court determined the lying in wait and conspiracy charges were invalid.

The verdict led to their recommendation for a revised sentence of 25 years to life. However, the court upheld the third charge against Kerry, which is death-qualified, resulting in her ongoing condemnation. While the Supreme Court can issue opinions and request a case to be retried, it lacks the authority to enforce its decisions. The 70-year-old remains incarcerated at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California. She continues to vouch for her innocence with substantial vocal support from her sister, Victoria Ann Thorpe, an activist.

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