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Charges filed in 1978 Laguna Beach homicide

February 23, 2011 |  1:58 pm

Charges were filed Wednesday against a convicted murderer in the 1978 fatal stabbing of a prominent Laguna Beach architect.

Walter Dalie, 52, is accused of stabbing Brent Stapleton Tobey to death in Tobey's Laguna Beach home in the 1300 block of Carmelita Street. Tobey, 55, was stabbed multiple times in the head and upper body.

Dalie, who is serving 50 years in a Connecticut prison for an unrelated murder, was identified as the prime suspect after detectives matched his DNA to traces found on Tobey's clothing, said Det. Jason Kravetz of the Laguna Beach Police Department.

Tobey was a prominent architect who served on boards of several committees and community organizations in Laguna Beach, and the brutality of the crime shocked surrounding neighbors of the quiet town.

Police arrested the roommate in the early evening of Nov. 20, 1978, but released him several hours later after ruling him out as a suspect, investigators said.

Tobey’s roommate, who lived in a separate apartment on the premises, had made plans with him earlier in the day to have dinner. When Tobey failed to show up, the roommate checked the house and found his body in a pool of blood.

Ironically, the men had planned to celebrate the murder conviction of James Scramlin, who killed their friend Albert Willard in his Temple Hills home in 1977, investigators said.

Tobey and his roommate discovered Willard’s bludgeoned body, and Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas prosecuted the case. In a strange coincidence, Tobey was murdered the same day Willard’s murderer was convicted by an Orange County jury.

In 2002, Laguna Beach Det. Paul Litchenberg submitted several items from the Tobey crime scene to the Orange County Crime lab for DNA analysis. There were no immediate matches in local, state or nationwide databases.

The case remained cold until August 2010, when detectives learned of a potential DNA match from a prisoner in Connecticut. Dalie's DNA was a match in Tobey's homicide case.

For the next several months, Sgt. Bob Rahaeuser and Lt. Jason Kravetz, of the Laguna Beach Police Department, put the case together. They traveled last November to Osborn Prison in Connecticut, where they interviewed Dalie on two separate occasions.

Dalie was serving a 50-year sentence for the 1985 murder of his girlfriend, Mary Carrington, who he bludgeoned with a hammer in Newington, Conn.

During the 1970s and '80s Dalie was on parole for robbery in Nevada. At the time of Tobey's murder, he was residing in Newport Beach and working in Laguna Beach as a gardener, Kravetz said.

Raised in southern Orange County, Dalie attended Dana Hills High School. He was 19 years old at the time of Tobey's murder and is believed to have known his alleged victim, police said.

Proceedings are set to begin to bring Dalie back to Orange County from Connecticut to stand trial for Tobey’s murder, officials said.

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-- Nate Jackson

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