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Bail Set At $5 Million For Suitcase Murder Suspect

Joseph David Dorsey did not enter a plea and his arraignment was continued to next week.

This story was modified at 4:10 p.m. Oct. 26, 2012, to include more information.

Bail was set at $5 million Friday for a 28-year-old Lake Elslnore man suspected of killing a Canyon Lake woman and stuffing her remains into a suitcase.

Joseph David Dorsey made his first court appearance Friday but did not enter a plea; instead, the arraignment was put off until Nov. 2.

In addition to a charge of murder, there are also sentence enhancing allegations against Dorsey of a strike prior and two prison priors.

He faces 57 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts, District Attorney spokesperson John Hall said outside court.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Rushton granted prosecutor Burke Strunsky's motion to set the bail high, instead of the $1 million which is usually called for in the bail schedule on a murder case.

The prosecutor told the judge how authorities had to spend a great deal of money to locate and extradite the defendant from Mexico and that Dorsey is a flight risk.

"I believe all those issues justify a deviation in bail," Rushton said.

The judge tacked on an additional $5,000 in bail for an alleged parole violation.

Outside court, friends of Stewart expressed shock at her death and told Patch what a loving, helpful person she was.

"She was like a mother," said Carline Clark, of Winchester.

Even once her drug-abuse clients had completed their mandated time with Stewart, said Clark, "you checked in with her.

"She loved you."

Valerie Dominguez, of Hemet, said pink remembrance shirts with Stewart's picture on them -- worn by a number of people at the hearing -- were made with money from a car washing event.

Since news of Stewart's death spread, a candlelight vigil and fundraisers have been held, Dominguez said.

The women stressed that as much as Stewart loved her clients, she loved and protected their children most of all.

They said Stewart was not known to date much and that she was engaged to be married.

Facebook pages have been established for Stewart, including https://www.facebook.com/JusticeForChristineOsborn?fref=ts.

Stewart, who also went by the last name of Osborn, would go to parks and feed the homeless, go to the homes of women in trouble to pack their things and help them move and volunteered in soup kitchens, her friends told Patch.

The women who attended Friday's hearing vowed to attend all court appearances by the suspect.

Arrest records in the case show Stewart was not answering her cell phone and she did not show up for work. According to police, Stewart worked as a behavioral health specialist at a drug rehabilitation facility in Hemet.

Investigators from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Perris station interviewed several family members, but it was a cousin of Dorsey’s who ultimately led police to Stewart’s body, the arrest records state.

The cousin was able to access Dorsey’s cell phone voicemail and she heard a message from the Poway Best Western stating Dorsey had left behind some property inside one of the motel rooms and that he should come and get it, the records state.

Investigators zoomed in on the motel and the large black suitcase that Dorsey allegedly left behind.

Inside the bag were Stewart’s remains, according to the arrest records.

According to an autopsy report, the cause of death was strangulation: Stewart sustained severe damage to her neck muscles and thyroid gland, and she also suffered “entries” to her head and chest area, the arrest records state.

A clerk at the motel identified Dorsey as the man who checked into the motel room with the large black suitcase in tow; the clerk also saw Dorsey drive away in a dark blue Ford Explorer, according to the arrest records.

Based on their investigation, police suspect Stewart was killed in Lake Elsinore -- Dorsey’s last known address was on Main Street.

The victim’s estimated time- and date-of-death have not been released by authorities.

Dorsey has a criminal past. The complaint against him shows that in 2006 he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer, and in July 2012 he was convicted of burglary.

Dorsey had not been seen for more than two months following the grisly Aug. 8 discovery, despite a warrant for his arrest, but was ultimately nabbed Oct. 23 by Mexican law enforcement officials in Playas de Rosarito in Mexico.

The suspect was extradited to the United States and on Oct 24 was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. --Toni McAllister contributed to this report.

Abdul Krishna October 27, 2012 at 06:04 AM
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LBV Collins October 27, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Humph... I'd settle for this week's winning lotto numbers. (Care to share what they are?)
LBV Collins October 27, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I dunno, Diana. (It's not like they caught him in Mexico.) ;)
Tracey Casey October 28, 2012 at 12:38 AM
My son was in jail on a drug charge and had NO BAIL. What is going on here/
Tracey Casey October 28, 2012 at 12:47 AM
That inmate behind him would kick his ass if he could.

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