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Dally Slaying Probe Builds as Investigators Search Homes

June 19, 1996|DARYL KELLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

About a month after authorities released slaying suspect Diana J. Haun from jail for lack of evidence, investigators again searched her Port Hueneme home Tuesday while simultaneously seeking evidence at her sister's house in north Oxnard.

Building their case against Haun, still the prime suspect in the May slaying of Ventura day-care center operator Sherri Dally, investigators searched the dwellings of Haun and her sister, Mary Oliver, for several hours Tuesday morning, police confirmed.

About 15 Ventura police officials, plus prosecutors from the district attorney's office, were involved in the searches. Authorities would not comment on what was seized, but a source said a typewriter was taken from Haun's house as evidence.

Lt. Carl Handy, spokesman for the Ventura Police Department, could not say if investigators were looking for the typewriter used to compose a bizarre, anonymous letter circulated to the news media Monday. It said Dally's death was the work of British nationalists seeking to embarrass Ventura County law enforcement.

"We are not discussing any of the physical evidence at this point," Handy said.

Nor would Handy say whether Haun's sister also is suspected of participating in the slaying of Dally, who disappeared from a Ventura parking lot May 6. Her skeletal remains were discovered by a search team June 1.

"We have several suspects, and Diana Haun is one of them," Handy said. "We're not commenting on the identity of the others. . . . But I'm absolutely confident we'll be able to put a case together."

The urgency in pressing the case, which led to Haun's initial arrest, subsided once Dally's body was found, Handy said. "We still have the whole [detective] bureau on it--about 20 cops. We're just not rushing into it anymore."

Neither Haun nor Oliver could be reached for comment. But Haun has maintained her innocence through an attorney. A man who answered the door of Oliver's house refused comment.

Law enforcement sources said previously that Dally's husband, Michael, who once worked nights with Haun at an Oxnard grocery store, is also a suspect. Co-workers and friends have said that Haun and Michael Dally had a romantic relationship.

Dally has professed his innocence and said he believes Haun is innocent as well.

Haun was arrested May 18 and held for four days before she was released for lack of evidence. Her home and the Dally residence were searched in the early weeks of the investigation.

Dally's body was found in a ravine north of Ventura. The cause of death was stabbing and beating, the coroner's office said.

Witnesses say they saw Dally get into the backseat of a blue-green car driven by a woman who was described as short and blond. Days later, police seized a bloodstained blue-green Nissan Altima rented in Haun's name between May 5 and 7.

But Haun told authorities that she had lost her credit cards before the car was rented. Investigators concede that the signature on the receipts obtained from the Budget Car and Truck Rental agency at Oxnard Airport does not match Haun's handwriting.

About 200 family members and friends, including her husband and two young sons, memorialized Sherri Dally at a service Saturday.

Correspondent Paul Elias contributed to this story.

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