Richard Earl Barnes (image courtesy Lexington County Sheriff)
Lexington, SC (WLTX) -- Lexington County detectives charged West Columbia man on Friday 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 54-year-old David Johnathan Diblasi, who was stabbed in his left eye and suffered a fractured skull, after detectives excavated a burial site outside the home of W. Edward Cook on Lee Gunter Road. Coook was charged with murder earlier this spring.
Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts said detectives served an arrest warrant to 41 year-old Richard Earl Barnes, of West Columbia, at the Lexington County Detention center, on charges of murder.
Barnes was being held at the Detention Center on prior warrants for being an accessory after the fact to murder, manufacturing methamphetamine, and possessing 28 grams of marijuana. The bail had been set for those prior charges totaling $505,000.
The 11th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office has not yet scheduled a bond hearing for Barnes.
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 the credit card to make the purchase. Cook's girlfriend at the time was pregnant.
In April 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.
According to Sheriff Metts, the arrest warrant for Barnes was obtained by Detectives following a witness identifying Barnes as a participant in the stabbing of Diblasi.
The arrest warrants allege the two suspects stabbed Diblasi multiple times with a knife, at Cook's home, and later buried Diblasi's body in the backyard of Cook's home. After they killed Diblasi, Sheriff Metts says 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 took the remaining parts of Diblasi's Isuzu Hombre pickup truck to Temple's Verbe Auto Parts in 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.