Translate this page
27-year-old Joseph Dorsey of Lake Elsinore is wanted for questioning after authorities found his 47-year-old girlfriend dead in a Poway motel room.
27-year-old Joseph Dorsey of Lake Elsinore is wanted for questioning after authorities found his 47-year-old girlfriend dead in a Poway motel room.

Felon to Stand Trail for Alleged Slaying of Drug Counselor


Thursday, August 9th, 2012
Issue 32, Volume 16.


MURRIETA - An ex-con accused of killing a Hemet drug counselor with whom he was living and stuffing her body in a suitcase abandoned in a motel room must stand trial for murder, a judge in Murrieta ruled today.

Joseph David Dorsey could face 57 years to life in prison if convicted in the August slaying of 47-year-old Christine Stewart.

Dorsey, 28, was arrested Oct. 23 in Playas de Rosarito, Mexico, where he was located by Mexican authorities with the help of the FBI.

After hearing from nine prosecution witnesses during a 90-minute preliminary hearing at the Southwest Justice Center, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Rushton ruled there was sufficient evidence to bound Dorsey over for trial.

Rushton set a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Feb. 15 and left Dorsey's bail at $5 million. The defendant is being held at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

During his presentation of evidence, Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky played a videotaped interview that sheriff's Detective James Merrill recorded when he spoke to Dorsey shortly after the fugitive was brought back from Mexico.

During questioning, Dorsey admitted attacking his girlfriend of two years when she said "something" that set him off a few minutes after the two finished having sexual intercourse at his Lake Elsinore apartment.

"I mean we were in bed and we were laying there and we started arguing," the defendant says on the video. "I can't for the life of me remember even exactly what words she used. But the next ... I mean, it was like that (snapping his fingers) and I had her pinned to the bed by her throat. It was like it wasn't even me."

Dorsey tells the detective that he choked Stewart until his "hands hurt" and then grabbed a phone cord and strangled her with it.

Merrill asks the defendant whether the woman attempted to fight back, noting that she had bruises on her body that indicated a struggle. But Dorsey replies on tape that he didn't recall Stewart resisting.

"She couldn't even speak," the defendant says. "I think it was more she was just trying to breathe."

Dorsey tells Merrill that even though Stewart hadn't died by the time he wrapped the phone cord around her neck, he "couldn't go back" and stop the attack.

"It was like something inside of me was telling me, 'OK, look, you have already done it. Now you have to follow through,"' he says during the interrogation.

According to the defendant, Stewart survived even after he used the phone cord, so he went into the bathroom, filled the bathtub and plunged her head underwater "until she stopped moving."

According to the defendant, he found a roller-wheel suitcase in his closet and stuffed Stewart's body into it, then drove to a motel with the remains.

The defendant triggered a manhunt after Stewart's body was found in a room at the Poway Best Western on Aug. 8. The victim, a behavioral health specialist at a drug rehab center, had been reported missing from her job two days earlier.

The remains of the 5-foot-2, 100-pound Canyon Lake woman were located by motel employees who took possession of the defendant's personal effects when he failed to check out, leading to the discovery of the remains, according to prosecutors.

Court records show that the parolee was convicted in 2006 of assault and battery on a peace officer, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison.

Dorsey was also convicted last June of attempted burglary. According to court records, he originally was charged with burglary and grand theft in that case, but under a plea agreement, the two felony charges were dropped and replaced with the lesser count, resulting in a one-year prison sentence.

With credit for time served in jail and additional state credit to minimize prison overcrowding, Dorsey was allowed to go free.


Ex-Con Due in Court in Drug Counselor Slaying

MURRIETA - A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for an ex-con accused of killing a Hemet drug counselor he was dating and stuffing her body in a suitcase abandoned in a motel room.

Joseph David Dorsey, 28, of Lake Elsinore could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted in the August slaying of 47-year-old Christine Stewart.

Dorsey was arrested Oct. 23 after allegedly fleeing to Playas de Rosarito, Mexico, where he was located by Mexican authorities with the help of the FBI.

Today's hearing before Riverside County Superior Advertisement
Advertisement for Berry-Bell and Hall Mortuary
[ Berry-Bell and Hall Mortuary ]
Court Judge Michael Rushton will determine whether there's sufficient evidence to warrant a trial in the case.

Dorsey is being held in lieu of $5 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

The ex-con triggered a manhunt after Stewart's body was found in a Poway Best Western motel room on Aug. 8. She had been reported missing on Aug. 6.

The victim, who worked as a behavioral health specialist at a drug rehab center, had been dating Dorsey in the weeks before her death, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The remains of the 5-foot-2, 100-pound Canyon Lake woman were located in a suitcase dumped in a room that Dorsey had rented three days earlier. Employees took possession of the defendant's personal effects when he failed to check out, leading to the discovery of the remains, prosecutors said.

Court records show that the parolee was convicted in 2006 of assault and battery on a peace officer, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison.

Dorsey was also convicted in June of attempted burglary. According to records, he originally was charged with burglary and grand theft in that case, but under a plea agreement, the two felony charges were dropped and replaced with the lesser count, resulting in a one-year prison sentence.

With credit for time served in jail and additional state credit to minimize prison overcrowding, Dorsey was allowed to go free.


Murder Charges Filed Against Ex-Con Accused of Killing Girlfriend, stuffing body in suitcase

RIVERSIDE - Murder charges were filed and an arrest warrant issued today for an ex-convict accused of killing a drug counselor he was dating and leaving her body stuffed in a suitcase.

Joseph David Dorsey, 27, remains at large, his whereabouts unknown two days after authorities discovered the body of his girlfriend, 47-year-old Christine Stewart, in a Poway motel.

Dorsey was charged today with murder, and a Riverside County Superior Court judge signed a warrant for the parolee's arrest.

Earlier, sheriff's officials named Dorsey as a suspect in Stewart's disappearance. The Canyon Lake woman, who worked as a behavioral health specialist at a drug rehab center in Hemet, had been dating Dorsey for an unspecified period of time, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The 5-foot-2, 100-pound woman's remains were located in a suitcase left in a room at the Best Western on Poway Road, authorities said.

Dorsey was last seen driving a dark blue 2003 Ford Explorer with a gray hood and fender. The vehicle's California license plate is 6-U-D-Y-7-7-3.

According to the D.A.'s office, Dorsey has a prior felony strike. Court records show that he was convicted in 2006 of assault and battery on a peace officer, for which he was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Dorsey was also convicted in June of attempted burglary. According to court transcripts, the defendant originally was charged with burglary and grand theft in that case. But under a plea agreement with the D.A.'s office, the two felony charges were dropped and replaced with the lesser count, resulting in a one-year prison sentence.

With credit for time served in the county jail and additional state credit to minimize prison overcrowding, Dorsey was allowed to go free.

Anyone with information on Dorsey's whereabouts was urged to contact the sheriff's Central Homicide Unit at (951) 955-2777.


Search under way for boyfriend of woman found dead in motel room

LAKE ELSINORE - A search was under way today for a man who was reported missing from Lake Elsinore along with a 47-year-old woman who was later found dead in a San Diego County motel room from an apparent homicide.

The body of Christine Stewart was discovered at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the motel in the 13800 block of Poway Road in Poway, said Sgt. Robert Novak of the Riverside County sheriff's Perris Station.

"It appeared she had been murdered elsewhere and transported to the motel where her body was found," he said.

Stewart was last seen alive with her boyfriend, 27-year-old Joseph Dorsey of Lake Elsinore, on Saturday night, he said.

Investigators want to question Dorsey, who was last seen driving a dark blue 1994 Ford Explorer SUV with a primer gray hood and the license plate number 6UDY773.

Dorsey is white, 6 feet 1, with brown hair.

Anyone with information of his whereabouts was asked to call Investigator James Merrill of the sheriff's Central Homicide Unit at (951) 955- 2777.


 

0 comments


arrow Be the first to share your opinion on this article!
 

Add your Comment


Name

Images, Formatting, or HTML is not allowed : plain text only. You may post up to 5 website addresses within your comment.




Disclaimer

The Valley News has tightened its' policy regarding comments.
While we invite you to contribute your opinions and thoughts, we request that you refrain from using vulgar or obscene words and post only comments that directly pertain to the specific topic of the story or article.
Comments that are derogatory in nature have a high likelihood for editing or non-approval if they carry the possibility of being libelous.
The comment system is not intended as a forum for individuals or groups to air personal grievances against other individuals or groups.
Please, no advertising or trolling.
In posting a comment for consideration, users understand that their posts may be edited as necessary to meet system parameters, or the post may not be approved at all. By submitting a comment, you agree to all the rules and guidelines described here.
Most comments are approved or disregarded within one business day.

RSS FeedFacebookTwitter



Advertisement for Crown Hill Pizza





Subscribe


Most Commented


Reach Local Customers



The Valley News The Valley News
760-723-7319 - 1588 S. Mission Rd. Suite 200, Fallbrook CA 92028
All contents copyright ©2014
About Us
Earthquake Information
Business Listings
Contact Us
Letter to the Editor
Report a website error
Sitemap
Online Digital Edition
RSS Feeds
Login