Satanic Murderer Denied Parole

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

April 2, 2024

Elyse Pahler was 15 in 1995 when she was kidnapped and murdered by three teenage boys in Arroyo Grande. One of her killers, Royce Casey, in prison since 1997, was recently denied parole by the Governor at the behest of SLO County D.A.’s Office. File photo

A man convicted in one of the most shockingly senseless murders in San Luis Obispo County history, has been denied parole after the District Attorney’s Office lobbied the Governor to keep him behind bars.

Royce Casey was one of three teenage boys who were convicted and sentenced to prison for the 1995 ritual murder of Arroyo Grande High School Freshman, Elyse Pahler. 

Casey and his accomplices, Jacob Delashmutt and Joseph Fiorella, were all teenagers in 1995 when the 15-year-old Pahler was killed in a ritual slaying dedicated to Satan and driven by rock ‘n’ roll fantasies.

According to a Wikipedia Page on the murder, Pahler’s body was discovered in March 1996, some 8 months after she went missing from her Arroyo Grande home. She had been raped and murdered the previous July, lured into a eucalyptus grove on the Nipomo Mesa. 

She had been stabbed, strangled and stomped by the three boys, who left her in the woods. According to Wikipedia, “The perpetrators returned to her corpse and raped it on several occasions.”

As twisted as that sounds, their motive for the murder is even more bizarre.

“The trio lured Elyse from her house with the stated intention of killing her as part of a Satanic ritual,” the post reads. “In their defense, the defendants said they had needed to commit a ‘sacrifice to the devil’ to give their heavy metal band, Hatred, the ‘craziness’ to ‘go professional.’”

Pahler’s parents, David and Lisanne Pahler, blamed the death metal band, Slayer, for their daughter’s murder, suing the band twice over their song lyrics, and losing both times. 

According to Wikipedia, in a Washington Post interview, Delashmutt denied the band was to blame. “The music is destructive [but] that’s not why Elyse was murdered,” Delashmutt is quoted as saying in the Post. “She was murdered because Joe [Fiorella] was obsessed with her, and obsessed with killing her.”

Casey was the first of the three to confess and plead to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison for a minimum of 21 years; The other two killers got Life and a 26-year minimum sentence after they too confessed. 

All three have now been up for parole more than once and denied each time, with Delashmutt scheduled for a parole hearing again next December.

This is the second time the local D.A. has opposed parole for Casey, who is now in his mid-40s. The Governor also denied Casey parole in July 2021.

Ironically, the Pahler Family did not oppose Casey’s parole back in 2021, which the Governor overturned. But Superior Court Judge Craig Van Rooyen granted a writ of habeas corpus filed by Casey and reinstated his parole, which the Governor has now blocked again.

Last December, with his boss Dan Dow deployed overseas with the National Guard, Assistant D.A. Eric Dobroth wrote to the Governor asking him to block Casey’s scheduled parole, arguing that he hasn’t learned his lesson from this heinous act.

Dobroth said Casey, “still has not developed insight into the grave character defects that allowed him to participate in such a hideous crime.”

Dobroth said insight was “a significant factor in determining whether there is a rational nexus between the inmate’s dangerous past behavior and the threat he currently poses to public safety.”

On March 11, the Governor’s Office responded and blocked Casey’s release, deciding that he posed too great a risk to the public. “Mr. Casey must better understand the internal processes that led him to commit the crime,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said, “and hone the skills he will need to manage them beyond the controlled environment of prison. 

“Mr. Casey will almost certainly encounter significant stressors while navigating his reentry into the community if he is allowed to parole, particularly given the stigma and notoriety of his case.”

Casey has some work to do, according to the Governor. “I encourage him to continue to develop his parole plans, and in particular his relapse prevention plans and the strength of his social supports, which will be critical to his success on parole. 

I have considered the evidence in the record that is relevant to whether Mr. Casey is currently dangerous. When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that he currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time. Therefore, I reverse the decision to parole Mr. Casey.”

You May Also Like…

New City Engineer Hired

New City Engineer Hired

Cindy Cecil has been hired as Morro Bay’s new City Engineer. Submitted photo Morro Bay has a new City Engineer,...