Tragedy changed suspect in slaying
Posted on Fri, Oct. 21, 2005
Tragedy changed suspect in slaying
DARK MOOD: TEEN WAS NEVER THE SAME AFTER SISTER'S
By Brandon Bailey and Ken McLaughlin
LAFAYETTE - In the days after the slaying on the
hilltop, the mood at the house down the steep, narrow
road grew strained. Behind closed doors, people spoke
in hushed tones.
Whether the tension was about the weekend killing of a
neighbor or something else is unclear.
But on Thursday, 16-year-old Scott Dyleski -- the
teenager fascinated with dark, gothic rituals who
lived in the house with his mother and another family
-- was in custody on suspicion of slaying his neighbor
She had been bludgeoned dozens of times with a thick
piece of crown molding from the nearly complete
mansion she was building with her husband, lawyer and
TV commentator Daniel Horowitz, according to a law
The killer carved a gothic symbol -- a double-crossed
``T'' -- into her back, the source said, and stabbed
and slashed her a number of times.
As she lay dead in the entryway of the mobile home the
couple shared while their 7,000 square-foot Italianate
villa was under construction next door, Dyleski
cleaned up, the source said.
He washed his hands in the bathroom sink and took a
shower. He drank a glass of water and left. The weapon
remained behind, the source said.
Clothing that had been scrubbed with OxyClean, a
household cleanser that breaks down organic stains
such as blood, was found after the killing at a
Hunsaker Canyon Road house, although it wasn't clear
whether it was the house Dyleski lived in, the source
Authorities believe Dyleski was trying to start a
marijuana-growing operation and was stealing credit
card numbers from the mailboxes along Hunsaker Canyon
Road to finance it. He would order lighting and other
equipment, have it shipped to the neighbors' homes and
try to pick up the deliveries before the neighbors
noticed, the source said.
A violent struggle
Dyleski may have had merchandise sent to the Horowitz
property, the source theorized, and when he went to
see if it had been delivered sometime Saturday, he
encountered Vitale. A violent struggle ensued. A
heavy, 65-inch TV screen had even been shoved aside. A
wall was covered with splattered blood.
Horowitz has told reporters that it appeared to him
that his 52-year-old wife had ``fought like hell.''
Mourners gathered Thursday in Lafayette's Oakmont
Memorial Park for a private funeral for Vitale, who
was remembered as a deeply loving mother, wife and
Dyleski, barely 120 pounds, was arrested late
Wednesday night at the Walnut Creek house of a family
friend and is being held in Contra Costa County
Juvenile Hall. His face and leg were apparently
scratched, the law enforcement source said. Dyleski's
mother had dropped her son there for his father to
She left instructions that the boy was ``on
restriction'' and could not use the phone or computer
-- or be left alone.
The killing occurred at the top of Hunsaker Canyon
Road deep in the Lafayette hills -- a rugged area
filled with a mix of shacks, rusted campers, and a few
pricey estates with commanding views of the East Bay
Dyleski lived less than a mile from the site of the
slaying down the steep, winding road with his mother,
Esther Fielding, and two other families, including
David Curiel and Curiel's brother and wife, Fred and
Kim Curiel. The Curiels built the house in 1997 out of
recycled materials and straw-bales. It had been
featured in a ``Green Home Tour.''
Change in mood
``I knew something was up,'' said David Curiel of the
mood in the house days after the slaying. ``They were
being very tight-lipped.''
Dyleski had attended Acalanes High School in
Lafayette, but had recently received his GED and
started taking classes at Diablo Valley College.
One of his friends since middle school said that
Dyleski had been a ``normal preppy kid, kind of a
nerdy kid'' through seventh grade, and was a decent
But three years ago, his sister died in a car crash,
and friends say he was never the same.
One day, in the eighth grade, Dyleski showed up at
school with a full gothic look -- a black trench coat,
black painted nails and lips, silver jewelry. He would
often be seen reading the ``Satanist's Bible.''
Dyleski and his friends would have rituals, said the
``They'd have seances and light red candles,'' said
Keith Kingon, a 16-year-old sophomore at Acalanes. ``I
think it was just an attention-getting thing.''
But another Acalanes student said Dyleski was his
``We all dress differently. Yeah, he got arrested, but
he's someone who's very nice. I don't think he'd do
anything to hurt anyone. He might have been involved
in growing marijuana, but I don't think he'd do
Back on Hunsaker Canyon Road, David Curiel said he
considered Dyleski ``just a normal kid.'' He seemed to
be phasing out of the goth look -- he'd cut his hair
and stopped wearing the dark nail polish. Curiel
thought maybe that he'd landed a job.
But just recently before the killing, neighbors began
noticing problems with their credit card bills and
unusual deliveries to their homes.
Within a day or so of the killing, one of the
neighbors went to the house where Dyleski lived and
confronted someone there about their suspicions. It's
unclear what resolution came of that.
Dyleski's mother, Esther Fielding, had once owned a
small cafe in Lafayette with Kim Curiel called ``Cafe
Esperanza,'' or Cafe Hope, serving organic, fair-trade
coffee and ``no carb'' frittata.
Fielding also offered healing therapies from her
Hunsaker Canyon Road house, promising ways to change
core beliefs that ``you're lazy, selfish, useless, a
Mercury News Staff Writers Elise Ackerman and Julia
Prodis Sulek, and Knight Ridder also contributed to
this report. Contact Brandon Bailey at
bbailey@... or (408) 920-5022.
The Mercury News strives to avoid use of unnamed
sources. When unnamed sources are used because
information cannot otherwise be obtained, the
newspaper generally requires more than one source to
confirm the information.
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