San Diego

Son Accused in Father's Killing Spent Years in Europe Before Abruptly Returning to San Diego

Even the most seasoned homicide detectives called the murder "one of the most brutal crime scenes they've ever come across," said Greenwood.

A judge ordered the man suspected of killing his father in the victim's Rancho Santa Fe home to be held on no bail in court Friday, after the prosecutor called the attack "brutal and savage."

Leighton Dorey IV, 39, is accused of beating and strangling his 71-year-old father, Leighton Dorey III, to death.

The son spent the last four years mostly in France and other parts of Europe, before abruptly returning to San Diego. A social media post from April showed him enjoying a ski tour in the Chamonix Mountains of France.

The relationship between the father and son was described as "fractious" and the evidence for that is "well documented," said Prosecutor Paul Greenwood.

Even the most seasoned homicide detectives called the murder "one of the most brutal crime scenes they've ever come across," said Greenwood.

Dorey was charged with one felony count of murder.

The District Attorney will be asking for a special allegation of torture in this case due to the severe extent of the victim's injuries. Court documents allege the murder was intentional and involved the use of torture.

After flying back to San Diego, Dorey showed up at the mansion "out of the blue" last Friday.

The mother of the defendant lives in Pennsylvania and is a "lady of means," who was divorced from the victim, said Greenwood. She paid for an airline ticket for Dorey to fly to San Diego and also bought him a jeep.

For several years, the victim's current wife Kimberly has lived in fear for herself and her husband, said Greenwood. 

Kimberly went to a store in Encinitas on Tuesday, and while she was there, she called her husband. The phone call lasted less than 20 seconds. Her husband told her that his son from his previous marriage was there.

Within 15 minutes, she returned to their home and found her husband's body.

In court, Greenwood argued that the defendant poses a danger and is a flight risk, asking for him to be held without bail. The victim's wife was prepared to testify in court. The judge agreed with the prosecutor, and the defendant was ordered held on no bail.

Dorey was represented by a public defender who made no argument on his behalf. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

On Tuesday, the elder Dorey was found dead inside the family's sprawling home on La Brisa. The victim's wife called 911 after returning home from running errands to find her husband dead.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO), the victim suffered extensive wounds to his head, chest and neck. His cause of death, per SDSO Lt. Kenn Nelson, was strangulation and blunt force trauma.

The victim's son was captured in Riverside County Wednesday and arrested in connection with his father's killing. Nelson said physical evidence and witness statements led investigators to suspect the younger Dorey.

Jeff Weston, who had employed the elder Dorey as a remote, contract coder for his Orange County-based company over the past four years, told NBC 7 earlier this week that there was always “some stress” between the father and his son.

The tension may have been centered, in part, on financial issues. Weston said the younger Dorey left France recently and returned to the United States to look for work.

The victim’s friend and neighbor, Roger Lindland, described the elder Dorey as “a joy to be around,” and a thoughtful, stand-up man. Lindland called the killing a tragedy.

He said the victim never talked about his relationship with his son. The motive for the murder remains unknown.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 15.

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