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Posted 08 Dec 2001   For week ended December 07, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 05Dec01

By Kent Larsen

Former Bishop's Memory Solves 24-year-old Murder

NAMPA, IDAHO -- A former Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the key witness in solving the 24-year-old murder of 10-year-old Steven John White, which was resolved Monday when Robert Estle Dyas, 39, plead guilty to the crime. The Bishop, who was not identified in local coverage, came forward after 20th anniversary stories in local newspapers helped him realize that he had relevant information.

The 10-year-old boy was found stabbed to death behind the then-LDS stake center located on Canyon Street in Nampa, Idaho on February 15, 1977. His family had reported him missing the night before, but investigators couldn't determine exactly when he had been murdered, frustrating their attempts to identify a suspect who had been near the chapel at the time of the murder. One of the suspects in the case was Dyas, then 14 and a student at a nearby middle school. While Dyas admitted at the time that he had been near the chapel on February 14th, he never admitted to the murder.

After reading about the murder 20 years later, the Bishop realized that he had been in the building on February 14th. Investigators hadn't been aware of the Bishop before then, and, according to Nampa Police Chief Alan Creech, "He realized at the time, he might have something relevant to say."

The Bishop told police that he was in the building and heard a fight outside. While that didn't seem like much, it helped investigators determine the time of the murder, "It was critical to pin down what time the murder occurred," said Creech. Police totally reworked the case, and even sought DNA evidence in the case. But the blood evidence they had was too old to be useful.

After two years of reinvestigation in which police built a strong case, they confronted Dyas with their evidence, and he soon admitted his guilt and plead guilty. In his pleading Monday, Dyas told the court what happened in the murder. He wrote in a statement that the two boys got into an argument that night. Steven White had a knife and police believe that Dyas also had a knife. Soon the argument developed into a fight, in which White was stabbed.

Dyas' life hasn't gone well since then. He has apparently been in prison several times, including once after was convicted in 1991 of aggravated battery, because he stabbed his parole officer, and of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony. Paroled from that crime in 1995, he was back in prison when investigators went to arrest him, for an August 2000 incident in which he barricaded himself in his home with his 6-month-old daughter for more than eight hours before surrendering to police.

Monday he was sentenced to seven years in prison, the same sentence he would have received at age 14. The sentence is to be served concurrently, keeping him in prison until 2009. The White family told the court they have never gotten over Steven's death, "What we wanted to know for sure, without a doubt, was who did this and that's what we got today," Kay White told the court.


Dyas pleads guilty to 1977 killing of fifth-grade boy
Boise ID Statesman 4Dec01 D4
By Charles Etlinger: The Idaho Statesman

1977 slayer gets seven years
Nampa ID Press-Tribune 4Dec01 D4
By Beckie Ferguson: IPT
Suspect admitted guilt in plea bargain


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