Vet accused of killing male escort
A former Fruita resident and twice deployed U.S. Army veteran is accused in the slaying of a male escort he met for sex via Craigslist, according to a Mesa County grand jury indictment returned this week.
Billy Joe Delacey, 36, was arrested without incident Friday morning at his home in Lansdale, Pa., one day after Mesa County Chief District Judge David Bottger signed off on a grand jury indictment alleging first-degree murder, second-degree murder, possession of sexually exploitative material and misdemeanor theft.
Delacey was being held Friday without bond at the Montgomery County Detention Facility in Pennsylvania.
Delacey, at the time a resident of 1074 Cedar Way, unit 102, in Fruita, is accused in the slaying of 26-year-old Luis Alberto Vasquez Oliva, or “Beto,” an undocumented Mexican national who was beaten to death inside his apartment at 540 29 Road, unit 6.
Mesa County Sheriff’s Department investigators were called around 6:20 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2011, by Oliva’s roommate, Morayma Alejandra, who found Oliva laying on a deflated air mattress with a large amount of blood pooled around his head, according to the indictment. Investigators noted no signs of a struggle in the apartment.
An autopsy showed Oliva died sometime between 6 a.m. on July 31, 2011, and 2 a.m. on Aug. 1. He suffered blunt-force trauma, with a single blow to the back of the head and multiple injuries to his face and head, the indictment said.
Brandon Wathan, Oliva’s partner who also lived in the apartment, told investigators Oliva had recently started advertising male-on-male massages and sex on Craigslist.
“Brandon said they had begun providing services because they were unemployed recently,” the indictment said.
Wathan explained he recently started working for a drilling company and was working in Parachute when he last spoke with Oliva around 9:05 a.m. on July 31, but couldn’t reach Oliva in several follow-up phone calls. Phone records confirmed Wathan was calling from his job site when he said he was.
Oliva’s ex-partner, a Denver resident, also was excluded as a suspect based on bank records and video surveillance, the indictment said.
At the crime scene, investigators found two $50 bills in a hall closet, along with Oliva’s laptop computer. Oliva’s cellphone was found, but its battery had been removed. The last correspondence on the laptop involving the massage ad was from a person using an email address of “firstname.lastname@example.org.” The message indicated the sender wanted to meet Oliva on July 30 and again the next day.
“No others were found to have planned to meet on July 31 and from what is known, this individual was the last person to meet with Beto prior to his death,” the indictment said.
“Billy” wrote in an email plans to meet Oliva around 4 p.m. on July 30 and 10 a.m. on July 31. The email suggests a failed attempt at sex on July 30, while “Billy” wrote, “I promise I won’t be nervous again,” the indictment said.
Delacey was identified by investigators using a photo that “Billy” had sent of himself to Oliva.
Formally interviewed, Delacey admitted meeting Oliva at his apartment July 31 for a massage, but said he changed his mind about having sex and left around 10:15 a.m.
“Mr. Delacey said he had deleted all messages related to (Oliva) from his computer and the associated e-mail accounts,” the indictment said. “Mr. Delacey described (Oliva’s) apartment as it was found by deputies.”
He said he left behind the full, previously agreed upon $100 payment for sex, even though they didn’t have sex.
Other accounts about his whereabouts on July 31 raised suspicion: Delacey said he bought gas at the Fruita Maverick store that morning, although no record of the purchase was found. Delacey said he dropped off rent in the form of a check at the Fruita post office upon returning from Oliva’s apartment on July 31, but investigators learned he paid with money orders which weren’t created until Aug. 1.
Confronted about the differing stories, Delacey, replied, “I don’t know what to tell you,” the indictment said.
“When directly accused of killing the victim, Billy said he did not know why we would think that and said, “I don’t know what to tell you, I didn’t have anything to do with anyone’s homicide or anything like that, I guess we’re done,” the indictment said.
An examination of Delacey’s laptop computer showed he’d downloaded an Internet program called “Evidence Eliminator” on Aug. 3, roughly seven hours before he was first contacted by law enforcement in the case. Six images of suspected child pornography were also recovered from the laptop, which authorities allege he stole from a neighbor in July 2010 after it was delivered to the wrong address.
On Oct. 29, 2011, Delacey allegedly refused to take a polygraph examination offered by deputies, the affidavit said.
A little more than a month later, deputies learned Delacey was loading items into a storage unit around the same time he was telling others he was being “deployed soon,” although U.S. Army representatives said he was not on active duty or the reserves, and hadn’t held such status since 2008.
Delacey moved to Pennsylvania in December 2011, moving in with his stepfather, then his stepbrother, Michael Frankenfield.
“Mr. Frankenfield said Mr. Delacey claimed the (Mesa County) investigation was relating to a piracy case,” the indictment said.
Deputy District Attorney Todd Hildebrandt said the U.S. Army confirmed Delacey was deployed initially to Iraq and later Afghanistan, before a second deployment to Afghanistan that ran between December 2006 and December 2007.
Delacey told investigators he served as a human intelligence officer, according to the indictment. The U.S. Army wouldn’t confirm the claim, Hildebrandt said.