Lexington County, SC (WLTX)- Lexington County Sheriff's Department detectives arrested a 26-year-old Leesville man on Friday, April 5 in connection with the fatal stabbing of a 54-year-old Lexington man.
The Lexington man was reported missing to the Sheriff's Department on March 9. Detectives recovered the body of the 54-year-old man, who was stabbed in his left eye and suffered a fractured skull, on Friday after detectives excavated a burial site outside the 26-year-old man's home on Lee Gunter Road.
Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts said detectives arrested Worth Edward Cook, III, 26, of Leesville, with arrest warrants on charges of murder, financial transaction card fraud and obtaining property under false pretenses.
Cook was being held on Sunday, April 7 at the Lexington County Detention Center while awaiting a bond hearing, Metts said. Under South Carolina law, a circuit judge would have to conduct a bond hearing for Cook in general sessions court because murder carries a punishment of life in prison.
The 11th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office has not yet scheduled a bond hearing for Cook.
Detectives also arrested Richard Earl Barnes, 40, of West Columbia with arrest warrants of charges of being an accessory after the fact to murder, manufacturing methamphetamine and possessing 28 grams or less of marijuana, Metts said. Barnes was being held on Sunday at the county Detention Center on bail totaling $5,620.
The mother of David Johnathan Diblasi reported her 54-year-old son missing to the Sheriff's Department on March 9, Metts said.
Diblasi's mother told deputies that she last saw her son at her home on February 25, Metts said. Diblasi lived with his mother at her home near Lexington.
Arrest warrants allege that Diblasi was last seen on February 25 in the company of Barnes and Cook, who knew Diblasi, Metts said. Surveillance camera video shows Barnes and Cook traveled on March 5 in a white 1997 Chrysler Town & Country van that is owned by Barnes' girlfriend to a Wal-Mart supercenter on South Lake Drive near Lexington.
Cook used Diblasi's TD Bank credit card to buy baby supplies, including diapers. Diblasi was not with Cook when he used Diblasi's credit card to make the purchase. Cook's girlfriend is pregnant.
On Friday afternoon, detectives executed a search warrant at Cook's home and found Diblasi's body in a clandestine grave that had been dug on Cook's property, Metts said. The body later was positively identified as Diblasi's body, based on numerous tattoos found on the body.
Arrest warrants allege that Cook stabbed Diblasi multiple times with a knife at Cook's home and later buried Diblasi's body in the backyard of Cook's home, Metts said. After he killed Diblasi, Cook cut up Diblasi's white 1996 Isuzu Hombre pickup truck, which Diblasi had driven to Cook's home.
Arrest warrants further allege that Barnes, who knew Diblasi had been reported missing and suspected that Diblasi had been murdered, took the remaining parts of Diblasi's Isuzu Hombre pickup truck to Temple's Verbe Auto Parts, 7303 Two Notch Road, Batesburg, where Barnes sold the remaining parts of the truck for metal recycling, Metts said. Barnes also unsuccessfully tried to use Diblasi's credit card to buy a saw at a home improvement center.
Metts said the motive for the fatal stabbing of Diblasi remains under investigation. Detectives might file additional charges in connection with Diblasi's murder.
Metts asked anyone with information about Barnes, Cook, Diblasi or the fatal stabbing of Diblasi to contact the Lexington County Sheriff's Department: (803) 785-8230 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.