Almost a year after Mel Dyson was stabbed to death in bed at his Huntington Harbour condominium, a deputy sheriff in Houston received an anonymous call from a man who said the victim's wife, Dixie Dyson, "had asked him to commit the murder," according to police reports.
The caller told Harris County, Tex., Sheriff's Sgt. John Hart that he refused the job but that Dixie Dyson "got her boyfriend, Enrico, to do it for her," the Huntington Beach police report says.
That phone call, in January, 1985, was but one link in a two-year investigation that led to the arrest Tuesday of Dixie Dyson, 42. She is being held on $250,000 bail and is to be arraigned today on murder and conspiracy charges in West Orange County Municipal Court.
Details of the investigation were revealed in police reports and other documents filed in court this week.
Dyson's alleged boyfriend, Enrico Vasquez, a former U.S. Marine who is in his mid-20s and believed to be living in New York, has not been charged in the case. Moreover, Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard F. Toohey said there has been no warrant issued for Vasquez's arrest in connection with the homicide.
Vasquez could not be reached Thursday.
Police allege in the murder and conspiracy charges filed against Dyson only that Vasquez was involved in the "furtherance of the conspiracy" by placing a telephone call to her on the date of the killing.
In an affidavit filed Oct. 28, 1986, to obtain a search warrant, Huntington Beach Police Detective Dale Mason wrote that he believed that "Dixie Dyson and Enrico Vasquez conspired to murder Mel Dyson." But in January, 1985, according to police reports, a security guard was adamant that a photograph of Vasquez did not resemble a suspicious man he saw in the condominium complex about midnight, 30 minutes before Dyson died.
The criminal complaint filed Tuesday alleges that an unidentified male, referred to only as "John Doe I . . . stabbed Mel Dyson multiple times."
Dyson was arrested on the eve of a court appearance in which she sought $135,000 from life insurance policies covering Mel Dyson. The two had lived together several years as husband and wife, though they apparently were never married.
In a brief interview Thursday in Orange County Jail, an emotional Dyson said it was "convenient" that her arrest came on the eve of a settlement conference in her lawsuit to collect the life insurance benefits.
Her attorney, Michael L. Schuur, called the arrest, backed up with helicopters and a battery of police, "the ultimate stall."
Dyson said she would not discuss the case until she has conferred with her attorney. However, she did say: "I'm scared. I've never been through anything like this."
When shown a copy of a newspaper story about her case that contained a photograph of Mel Dyson, she said, "Why did they print his picture like that?"
She became very emotional and began to cry.
In the documents on file in court, Dyson is portrayed as a woman who has often been distraught over the last two years because police suspected her of murder. She called it harassment in conversations with friends.
But court records also show that police believe that Dixie Dyson, as recently as February, 1986, was mailing money to Enrico Vasquez "and/or the unidentified male caller as a form of extortion."
On Feb. 28, 1986, "a surveillance was initiated on Dixie Dyson," police records show. All incoming telephone calls to her home were monitored.
And a week later, acting in concert with U.S. postal authorities, police intercepted a letter in New York from Dyson that was addressed to E. Vasquez. Dyson wrote in that letter, among the documents filed in court, that an unidentified woman offered to lend her money, with a condition.
"She said I could have the money as long as I admitted to being involved in Mel's accident," Dyson's letter said. "Either I did it, or know who did it, or arranged it. She said then her people would have some guarantee that I'd pay the money back or they could go to the police.
"Let me tell you, I was tempted. But I got scared and said no, I couldn't lie about it. She really started pushing it. I could have $15,000--$30,000 whatever I wanted as long as I confessed to something."
She wrote that an unidentified man named "Mike" advised her to stay away from the woman because "it was a setup."
"He says they're waiting for me to make a mistake," Dyson's letter said. "With the circumstantial evidence, if I admitted anything to anyone they could pick me up. Although he did say it was entrapment and he thinks the jury would laugh them out of town. But he says they definitely don't have enough to arrest me, or they would have.
"There's never a day goes by I don't think of you (Vasquez).
"My God babe can't you see how hard this is on me? I've got to get out. I think now is the best time. They think I'm stuck here, they won't be expecting it. Once I get the money I think they'll really be watching to see what I do with it.