Charges upgraded for inmate accused of stabbing, burying man in backyard

Richard Earl Barnes (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)
Richard Earl Barnes (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)
Worth Edward Cook (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)
Worth Edward Cook (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Lexington County Sheriff's deputies have upgraded charges for an inmate they say was involved in the stabbing death of a man who was reported missing in March.

Sheriff James Metts said detectives on Friday served 41-year-old Richard Earl Barnes of West Columbia with an arrest warrant for murder. Barnes was already being held at the Lexington County Detention Center in connection with the crime. In April, Barnes was charged with accessory after the fact to murder, manufacturing methamphetamine and possessing marijuana.

26-year-old Worth Edward Cook of Leesville is also being held in connection with the incident. In April, he was charged with murder, financial transaction card fraud and obtaining property under false pretenses. Cook is also accused of violating his court-ordered supervision.

In March, the mother of 54-year-old David Johnathan Diblasi reported her son missing to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department. She told investigators she last saw her son at the home they shared on February 25th.

According to arrest warrants, Diblasi was last seen that day with Barnes and Cook, whom Metts said knew each other.

Arrest warrants allege that between March 9 and April 18 Barnes and Cook fatally stabbed Diblasi multiple times at Cook's home, Metts said.

On March 5th, Metts said surveillance video showed Barnes and Cook used Diblasi's bank card to buy baby supplies at Walmart in Lexington, but Diblasi was not with them. Metts said Cook's girlfriend is pregnant.

Friday, detectives executed a search warrant at Cook's home and Metts said they found Diblasi's body in a grave on the property. Lexington County Coroner Harry Harman determined Diblasi died from stab wounds to his face. Harman also said he had stab wounds on his neck.

Metts said Cook cut up Diblasi's pickup truck, which he had driven to Cook's house. Arrest warrants say Barnes sold the parts from Diblasi's pickup for recycling, knowing that Diblasi was reported missing and suspecting he had been murdered.

Metts said Barnes unsuccessfully tried to use Diblasi's credit card to buy a saw at a home improvement store.

If you have any information about this crime, Sheriff Metts encourages you to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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