Gruesome discovery leads to murder, fraud charges

04/07/2013 7:16 PM

04/07/2013 7:17 PM

A mutilated body in a shallow Leesville grave has led to charges against two Lexington County men, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said Sunday.

Detectives discovered the body of David Diblasi, 54, of Lexington, on the property of Worth Edward Cook, 26, of Lee Gunter Road, in Leesville, according to a statement by Sheriff James Metts. Diblasi had been stabbed multiple times with a knife, including around the neck and at least once in the left eye, according to a warrant in the case.

Cook has been charged with murder, financial transaction card fraud and obtaining property under false pretenses.

A second man, Richard Earl Barnes, 40, of 4127 Greenwood Drive, West Columbia, has also been charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder and manufacturing methamphetamine.

Diblasi was reported missing on March 9 by his mother, who lives on Southwood Drive near Lexington. She last saw him on Feb. 25.

Arrest warrants in the case say that Diblasi was last seen on Feb. 25 in the company of Barnes and Cook, who were his friends.

On March 5, store surveillance cameras caught Barnes and Cook at a Walmart supercenter on South Lake Drive near Lexington, “where Cook used Diblasi’s TD Bank credit card to buy baby supplies, including diapers. Diblasi was not with Cook when Cook used Diblasi’s credit card to make the purchase, a statement by Metts said.

Detectives executing a search warrant Friday at Cook’s home found Diblasi’s body “in a clandestine grave that had been dug on Cook’s property,” Metts said. Positive identification was made by Diblasi’s numerous tattoos.

Warrants also allege that Cook cut up Diblasi’s white 1996 Isuzu Hombre pickup truck in Cook’s back yard on Lee Gunter Road. Diblasi had driven the truck there.

Other warrants allege that Barnes took the remaining parts of Diblasi’s Isuzu to a Batesburg auto parts store, where he sold them for metal recycling. Barnes also tried to use Diblasi’s credit card to buy a saw at a home improvement center, a warrant said.

“The motive for the fatal stabbing of Diblasi remains under investigation,” Metts said.

According to Lexington County Coroner Harry Harman’s office, which oversaw an autopsy Saturday on Diblasi, he died “within minutes after being stabbed in his eye and suffering a fractured skull.”

Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344

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