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Murder suspect charged in online sex sting

Posted February 5, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— A man suspected in the 1997 disappearance of a Carrboro woman has been arrested in an online sex sting, authorities said.

Andrew Dalzell, 32, of Gastonia, was arrested Tuesday in Buncombe County and charged with solicitation of a child by computer. He was being held in jail under a $70,000 bond.

Authorities said he traded messages in an online chat room with an undercover officer posing as an 11-year-old and discussed performing sex acts in the messages.

Dalzell couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, and a message left for his mother wasn't returned.

Joy Preslar, friend of Debbie Key (Andrew Dalzell case) Woman's disappearance still haunts friends

"We were waiting for him to get caught doing something," said Joy Preslar, who believes Dalzell killed her friend, Debbie Key.

Key disappeared from the parking lot of a Carrboro pub in December 1997. Although her body has never been found, prosecutors arrested Dalzell in 2004 and charged him with her murder.

The two were acquaintances, and Dalzell was reportedly the last person to see Key before her disappearance. Police said Dalzell confessed to the crime.

A judge threw out the confession in 2005, ruling that officers crossed the line by showing him bogus court documents to obtain it. Officers admitted they showed Dalzell a phony arrest warrant and a fake letter that purported to be from the district attorney and said he would seek the death penalty if Dalzell didn't confess to the crime.

Without the confession, prosecutors were forced to drop the murder charge a few months later.

Dalzell later discussed his confession on "NC Wanted," which airs on WRAL's sister station, WRAZ-FOX50.

"I told them what they wanted to hear," he said. "I just wanted to go home. I wanted to be with my girlfriend at that point, Stacy. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to eat."

Preslar said she remains unconvinced of Dalzell's innocence, and she said she's glad he faces more charges.

"To hear that the man who confessed to her murder, whether he was convicted of it or not, is in jail is good news," she said. "I'd love to see him turn around. I'd love to see him rehabilitate in jail – but in jail, where he can't harm other people."

Still, Dalzell's arrest brings her little comfort.

"It's hard. It's hard to be without her," she said of Key. "I can't go to Walnut Creek to see bands anymore because she was my Walnut Creek buddy. I can't go out to hear a band without thinking of her."

7 Comments

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  • ContinuityMan Feb 6, 2009

    Is this Punctuation-free Friday? I'm struggling to follow these arguments.

  • jajs Feb 6, 2009

    wow, keep an eye on woodrowboyd! contact with a minor over the internet or through other means such as text message/im becomes a violation of state and federal law when the conversation turns to content of a sexual nature to the extent that it appears that the contacting person is communicating in a sexually explicit manner with the contacted person.

  • candace710 Feb 6, 2009

    Woodrowboyd2 are you serious?

  • ncmickey Feb 6, 2009

    Stop shouting Woodrow....

  • woodrowboyd2 Feb 6, 2009

    IF NO CONTACT WAS MADE AND HE DIDNT GO TO THE TOWN WHERE SHE LIVED HOW CAN HE BE CHARGED WITH THE CRIME
    ALSO ID LIKE TO SEE IF THE OFFCER MADE THE FIRST MOVE TO GET THIS GUY TO TALK ABOUT SEX.
    I DONT GET HOW YOU CAN BE ARESTED FOR TRYING TO HAVE SEX WITH AN 11 YEAR OLD IF THERE IS NO GIRL AT THAT AGE TO HAVE SEX WITH

  • didisaythat Feb 5, 2009

    I know it is little comfort to the victim's family, but at least they know and the police know and the reasonable public knows he was caught for the murder. That the charge was dismissed for what "they" call "crossing the line" is rediculous. The law does not say police can not lie. They can not force a confession or entrap, but it does not say police can not lie. He confessed and confessed because he did it. And this new arrest just shows he is a criminal and will continue to be a criminal. The liberal law makers and judges need to stop trying to get criminals off on "technicalities" and start putting the criminal away for a long time in a prison that is made to punish.

  • jlh4jdj Feb 5, 2009

    The funny thing is he will pay more for the this crime than had he been convicted of murder two or less.