32-Year-Old California Cold Case Leads to Connecticut

Brent Stapleton Tobey and Walter Dalie

The 32-year-old cold case of a prominent architect's murder in Laguna Beach, California has led police to Connecticut and a man who is serving a 50-year sentence for the 1985 murder of a Newington woman he was dating.

Walter Dalie, 52, has been charged with the murder of Brent Stapleton Tobey, a prominent architect who served on several boards in his hometown.

On Nov. 20, 1978, a man who lived in another apartment in Tobey’s building went looking for him when Tobey did not show up for dinner.

In a strange and tragic twist of fate, the two men were planning to celebrate the murder conviction of James Scramlin, a Laguna Beach man who murdered their friend, Albert Willard, in 1977. Scramlin had been convicted that day.

Tobey and the neighbor had discovered Willard’s bludgeoned body the year before.

Inside Tobey’s bedroom, the neighbor found his friend, lying in a pool of blood. He had been stabbed several times in the head and upper body.

Shortly after the crime, police arrested a man who had been staying with Tobey but he was released several hours later after being ruled out as a possible suspect, police said.

There was a break in the case in 2002, when a lab found foreign DNA on an item from the crime scene, but there were no immediate matches in the local, state or nationwide DNA databases.

In August 2010, detectives were notified of a potential DNA match from Connecticut. He was in prison for the slaying of Mary Carrington in 1985.

The case suddenly had a new lead.

In November 2010, California police traveled to Osborn Prison in Somers, Connecticut and interviewed Dalie on two separate occasions.

Dalie was raised in Orange County and was on parole during the 1970s and early 1980s, police said.

He was 19 at the time of Tobey’s death and police believe the men knew each other.

The District Attorney’s Office in California plans to bring Dalie to California to stand trial for Tobey’s murder.

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