News

Devil among us

How a four-time rapist and 'psychopathic deviant' ended up on the streets of San Luis Obispo

by

comment

He is a man described with fearful words.

Psychopathic, a prosecutor says. A sexual deviant, doctors say. Remorseless, a judge says. Insane, his victims said.

And now he lives as a transient on the streets of San Luis Obispo.

Anthony Dacayana has spent the majority of his adult life behind bars for raping women. While he has only served time for two rapes, court records show that he has raped at least three women and one 13-year-old girl.

He finished his last prison sentence - for raping a blind woman 18 years ago - in 1996. But that was the same year California passed its Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) Act. Instead of leaving prison, Dacayana was examined by three doctors examined who concluded he was an SVP and committed him to Atascadero State Hospital.

Dacayana and his lawyers fought the SVP diagnosis, but lost. And, as required by law, every two years since then, juries in Ventura County - where he committed his last crime - have ruled to keep him behind bars.

That is, until this year. After a controversial, almost-three-week-long trial last June, a Ventura county prosecutor named David Lehr couldn't convince a jury that Dacayana still met the criteria to be considered an SVP.

Dacayana - the man a jury member later described as having an "extreme ability to manipulate people" - left Atascadero State Hospital that same June and moved in with a woman in Paso Robles he'd had a relationship with while in prison.

Lehr recently said that Dacayana quickly began drinking again after his release and that the relationship with the woman ended. Early last month, Dacayana moved to San Miguel and was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender. Last week, he registered as a sex offender in San Luis Obispo and stated that he was homeless.

Since then, police say they have mainly seen him in the downtown area.

 

The trial that set him free

When Dacayana arrived in town, the San Luis Obispo Police Department did the only thing it could do since he wasn't wanted for a crime: notify the public. But Capt. Dan Blanke said they also have a number of detectives and undercover officers whose job it is to pay attention to Dacayana.

"Often times, that whole [plainclothes] unit will do some watching," Blanke said. "There's not someone watching Dacayana 100 percent of the time, but there are a fair number of eyes on him."

A major reason police are paying such close attention to him, Blanke said, is his potential to become a repeat offender. The police are not the only ones who've voiced such concerns: When Dacayana was examined in 1996 as part of his SVP evaluation, three doctors specifically said he was "more likely than others with antisocial personality disorders to reoffend," according to court documents.

At the time, the doctors diagnosed Dacayana with several mental disorders, the two most important being an antisocial personality disorder and paraphilia, which is another word for sexual deviancy.

That diagnosis makes up most of what the state requires to commit someone as an SVP - an offender must have been convicted of at least two sexually violent crimes, and at least two doctors must agree that the person has a mental disorder that will make the patient commit a new violent sexual crime.

Several years after that diagnosis, and as part of a case that upheld the doctors' findings, appellate court judge John J. Hunter wrote that the doctors based much of their diagnosis on Dacayana's many sexual offenses, the fact that he was unfazed by his time in jail, and his long nonsexual criminal history.

"[Dacayana] had a history of manipulating people and no empathy for his victims," Hunter wrote. "His test scores on [a psychological exam] identified him as a 'psychopathic deviant.'"

In 2005, one of the jurors charged with determining whether Dacayana was still an SVP echoed the doctors' descriptions of the Atascadero patient. Dacayana, Rebecca Guay said, was very convincing and sincere as he explained how sorry he was about his past crimes and how much he had changed.

But, she said, "when he raped the blind woman, that was a pretty heinous crime. He wanted to hurt her; he wanted to terrorize her; he wanted to take what he wanted."

And while Guay did not hesitate to call Dacayana a psychopath, that's not what she and her fellow jurors were tasked with determining. Since he was an SVP, a jury needed to agree he was still diagnosed paraphilia for Dacayana to be recommitted.

"It's not enough to think he's going to rape again," Ventura County prosecutor Lehr said in a recent interview, "but he's going to do it because of a mental disorder."

Despite the fact Dacayana had been unequivocally diagnosed with paraphilia in 1996, his public defense team was able to convince this year's jury that he no longer had this mental illness. Lehr, who in 1999 successfully convinced a jury to recommit Dacayana, was unable to change the 2005 jury's opinion.

"Lehr presented a good case, as good as he could under the law," Guay said. "But the public defender did outstanding job. He had a number of experts. And it all hinged on this definition of paraphilia and if [Dacayana] has it."

In the end, she said, "there just wasn't enough evidence to hold him."

 

The first three rapes

Anthony Francis Dacayana was born and given up for adoption in 1957. There are no court records to show what happened during the early years of his life with that family, but in 1996, a Ventura County prosecutor would write: "The family that adopted him lives in fear of him today."

One thing is clear about those years: The family knew their son had a sadistic sexual side. In 1976, when he was 19 years old, Dacayana raped his 13-year-old sister, and was convicted of unlawful intercourse with a minor.

Over the next three years, Dacayana had regular run-ins with law enforcement. First came several alcohol-related offenses. Then he was arrested in North Carolina for breaking into a store and stealing meat, beer, and cigarettes. After another drunken-driving offense, he was arrested in Pennsylvania for anther burglary and served almost five months in jail.

He joined the Marines. And he got married to a woman named Deborah Arbuckle. On Thanksgiving Day, 1978, Dacayana got drunk and went wild, smashing up the inside of his wife's home. He was so psychotic that the Marines had him committed to a military hospital. By the time he got out, military officials decided they didn't want him, and he was discharged.

In late 1979, Dacayana was living in Ojai, near Ventura, and working at a Carrows restaurant. On Dec. 11, as he walked a coworker home, he attacked her in an empty field and raped her. But what Dacayana did two days later would overshadow that crime.

The afternoon of Dec. 12th, Dacayana was hanging out in Ojai with his friend Ronald Wheeler, riding on the back of Wheeler's motorcycle to different bars. Late in the evening, they stopped by Wheeler's house before riding to one last bar. Once there, and unbeknownst to Wheeler, Dacayana stole his friend's Colt .45 revolver. He loaded the gun, strapped it and its holster across his chest, and then zipped up his jacket, hiding the gun. Then he jumped on the back of Wheeler's bike and they rode off to the Hub Cocktail Lounge.

The two men arrived at the Hub in Ojai at about 1 a.m. on Thursday morning and found the bar almost empty. Karen Madison - not her real name - was working behind the bar; her boyfriend and a man named Joseph McDonaugh were the only customers.

Madison was getting the bar ready for closing and didn't pay much attention to the newcomers. She served Dacayana a Bloody Mary and said goodbye to her boyfriend when he got a ride home with Wheeler, who he was friends with.

Dacayana didn't say much to Madison - just sat and drank another Bloody Mary. But when she carried an empty beer case to a back room, he followed her down the hallway. As she came out of the storeroom and started to walk around him, he grabbed her arm. And that's when she saw he had a gun in his other hand.

Dacayana walked her to the front of the bar and stopped. Later that month in court, Madison was asked what she did next.

"I took my hand and I moved the gun away from me," she said. "I told him I didn't like - you know, didn't like guns. I didn't like them pointed at me."

So Dacayana pointed it at the only other person in the bar: McDonaugh. Cocking the hammer back, he told McDonaugh to put his hands on his head or he'd shoot him.

Dacayana wrapped his hand around Madison, unzipped the front of her pants, pulled them down to her knees, and tried unsuccessfully to put his penis into her. He turned her around, tried, and failed again. With the gun still pointed at McDonaugh, he ordered his victims to walk across the bar to an arcade game. There, with Madison on the ground, he tried to rape her again, but she managed to push him off, complaining that her leg was cramping.

And so he made her sit on the game and take off her pants. As she lay half on the game, he raped her.

At one point, Dacayana leaned his face into Madison's neck, and as he did, McDonaugh bolted out the front door. Dacayana pushed off of Madison and scrambled to the other side of a booth, pulling his pants up as he ran.

Madison grabbed her own pants and underwear and fled out the back door, only stopping when she was several blocks away to put her clothes back on.

Back at the bar, Dacayana followed McDonaugh out the front door and fired a single shot at the escaping man. Then he walked back inside. Police say he say poured himself a shot of Jack Daniels and emptied the cash register of a little more than $300. From there, he walked down the road until he came to a toy store where the owners were staying up late to restock inventory. Dacayana walked in and tried to buy a toy duck, explaining that it had "special meaning" to him.

But the owners saw cash bulging out of his jacket pockets, and they called the police. Officers were already on their way to the scene after getting calls from Madison and McDonaugh, and they quickly arrested Dacayana. As they handcuffed him, he spit in one officer's face.

Dacayana tried to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but in April of 1980, he agreed to plead no contest to the rape if prosecutors agreed not to charge him with raping his coworker on Dec. 11.

At Dacayana's sentencing, his court-appointed lawyer argued for a light sentence: "I think that throughout Mr. Dacayana's life, his problems have been caused by alcohol," he said.

"There are statements in the probation report from his wife, from his family as to what even one drink of alcohol does to Mr. Dacayana and his personality," he continued. "It seems that coming to grips with that problem really is the thing that Mr. Dacayana has to do."

The prosecutor, Robert Meyers, replied with an almost prescient rebuttal: "I think the real thrust of the defense council's argument is, 'Hey, just give him [a lighter term] because, look, he's an alcoholic,' Meyers said.

"However, I think from [the probation officer's] report it is clear that [alcohol] is not the man's only problem. He has had a long history of antisocial behavior. Alcoholism is certainly a contributing problem but from the overall information it appears to me that the defendant very possibly has social-pathic tendencies."

Dacayana was sentenced to nine years in prison at the California Institute for Men in Chino California.

 

'Who is this? Who are you?'

Five years later, Dacayana was paroled. And in October of 1985, six months after walking free, he was back in court for a DUI. Then, in November, he was busted for possessing a controlled substance in Nevada.

The next year, he was arrested and charged with prowling after police caught him cutting out the screen window of a 20-year-old woman's bedroom at 4:30 in the morning.

When Dacayana got out of jail in May of 1988, he went back to Ojai and to the apartment of a friend who was totally blind: Heather McKee - not her real name. McKee had met Dacayana in 1987 and had corresponded with him after her husband died and while Dacayana was in jail.

Probation records show that two days after his release, Dacayana used McKee's apartment on Signal Street in downtown Ojai as his "residence." But it was hardly permanent. In court, McKee described it like this: "We were friends. We had - we had sex, um, when he first got out and the day after that, and from then on, he slept on the couch."

After a week at McKee's place, Dacayana left for a friend's house in Ventura. Pat Leslie lived in a two-story home on Plumas Avenue with her boyfriend, Jimmy Asebedo, and her two children.

The night of June 18, Leslie and Asebedo went drinking at a few bars and got in an argument on their way home. Dacayana was up when they arrived at about 2 a.m. and Leslie gave him her key ring - a heavy mass of keys, beaded leather straps, a purple-colored acrylic teardrop, and a square metal tag - so that Asebedo couldn't drive off in her bright-red, 1985 Thunderbird.

The couple soon made peace and Dacayana and Asebedo spent several hours in the garage playing darts. Asebedo and Leslie went to bed at about 5 a.m., but Dacayana did not. Instead, he called McKee. When she woke up and answered the phone, he asked if he could come by the next week and pick up some clothes he'd left. It had been three weeks since she'd last seen him. Half asleep, she said okay.

"Then I said, 'Can you hold a second?' And when I went in to the kitchen to get a drink of water, and I came back, and he was gone," she later remembered.

McKee fell back asleep. And woke up to the sound of someone walking across her carpet.

She was terrified. At first she acted like she was still asleep, thinking it was maybe a burglar. But she got so frightened that she called out, asking who was in her room. Whoever it was sat on the end of her bed. In the silence, McKee sat up and reached out with her hands, feeling for the person. "Who is this? Who are you?" she asked. First she felt a large, muscular arm, then a shirtsleeve. "Say something to me," she kept repeating.

When her hands got to his face, the man finally moved, grabbing her wrists and the bed sheet and wrapping them together as McKee screamed: "Please don't hurt me. Leave me alone." He shoved a pillow onto her face and she kept screaming: "Please don't hurt me. I'm pregnant."

The man didn't know she was lying, but he didn't stop. He twisted her legs above her head and raped her.

"I got one of my hands free and my left hand, I just dug my nails, just like held on with my nails, and prayed he would just finish," McKee said.

When he was done, the man sat back on the bed, and McKee asked again who he was. She had a horrible idea that she actually knew who it was - "Because the insanity, I could pick up the vibes of just insanity," she later said in court - and she felt for his hands, trying to find the rings she knew Dacayana wore, but he pulled away.

McKee had one last question for him. "I asked him if he felt like a big man raping a blind woman," she said.

The man erupted, beating at her with a large clump of keys. McKee grabbed at them and felt long leather tassels and a lump of plastic before the man yanked them away. He turned to the dresser, her nightstand, her desk, ripping out drawers and emptying them onto the floor. And all the while, he never said a word.

When he went into the bathroom, McKee tried to get her window open to yell for help but the man quickly came back with a wet washrag. Then he forced her legs apart and scrubbed at her until it burned.

When the man left McKee's apartment, there were two people who saw him. One was an upstairs neighbor; the other was the apartment manager, who, coincidentally, was Dacayana's old probation officer. Neither of the witnesses got a good look at the man, but they agreed on this: Standing halfway in the driver's side of a late model, bright red Thunderbird, the man pushed the car out of its parking spot, jumped in, coasted onto the street, and raced away with his tires screaming.

Less then two hours later, police arrested Dacayana at his friends' home. Two months later, he pleaded guilty to raping McKee and was sentenced to 15 years, back at the California Institute for Men in Chino.

 

What will he do next?

In 2005, as Dacayana sat in a courtroom in Ventura as part of his recommitment trial, jury member Guay remembers him as being very quiet. He occasionally wore his glasses, but removed them when he took the stand. When he spoke, she said, he was articulate.

And the rare times he looked at the jury, his eyes were the things she remembered most. "He had very striking eyes," she said.

Prosecutor Lehr was also very aware of the effect Dacayana had on the jury. According to Lehr, Dacayana never participated in the SVP rehabilitation programs at Atascadero State Hospital. But during this recent trial, Lehr said Dacayana was able to convince the jury of the validity of his own type of treatment: an embracing of the spiritual beliefs from his Native American heritage; many years of not using drugs or alcohol; a new relationship.

So what happens now that he's out and is apparently no longer adhering to most of the same personal guidelines he presented to the jury?

Lehr, like every other law enforcement official interviewed for this story, refused to speak on the record about what he felt Dacayana was capable of doing now that he's free.

But Lehr would say he's very worried to hear that Dacayana is drinking again: "When he starts drinking, he goes from 10 to a scale of 100 where dangerousness is concerned."

Capt. Blanke with the San Luis Obispo Police Department has his own concerns, namely that Dacayana's homelessness makes him hard to monitor.

"One thing that bothers us a lot is that he doesn't have a place to live," he said. "With a lot of sexual offenders, we have a place to check up on them. We're keeping track of places that he's been seen, but it does make keeping track more difficult."

Guay herself says that she's worried that Dacayana will rape again - a thought that keeps her up at night. For her, the jury's verdict was very difficult on a personal level. Despite her belief that he should go free, it felt like her "feelings were being ripped out," she said.

She does not say she regrets their decision, or thinks a mistake was made. Instead, she faults a legal system that she says tries to force a particular mental illness diagnosis onto rapists instead of giving them long, long sentences and requiring strict rehabilitation programs.

Still, despite her tough attitude, it was easy to hear the concern in her voice as she talked about the outcome of the trial.

"I wanted to [recommit him]," she said. "I really, really did. I cried. I was depressed for days afterward.

"I felt like we didn't do the job society wanted us to."

 

Staff Writer Abraham Hyatt can be reached at ahyatt@newtimesslo.com.

Add a comment