Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
SANTA ANA – Despite opposition by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, The Board of Parole Hearings (Board), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, determined today that an inmate convicted of the 1983 murder of his ex-girlfriend’s husband and attempted murder of the ex-girlfriend is suitable for parole. Ivan Von Staich, 55, is currently being held at California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, CA. Staich was found guilty of one felony count each of second degree murder, attempted murder, and sentencing enhancements for the use of a deadly weapon and inflicting great bodily injury, and was sentenced May 23, 1986, to 30 years to life in state prison. This case was originally prosecuted by former Deputy District Attorney Richard King.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ray Armstrong attended the hearing to oppose Staich’s parole. The inmate’s parole suitability will now go before California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. The Governor has the authority to accept or reverse the Board’s decision to grant Staich parole. Even if Staich is paroled, he is still subject to a Federal hold for being on parole during the commission of the 1983 crime.
Murder of Robert Topper and Attempted Murder of Cynthia Topper
At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Dec. 8, 1983, then-27-year-old Staich arrived at the home of his ex-girlfriend Cynthia Topper, who by then was married to Robert Topper. He cut the outside telephone wires with his pliers and kicked open the front door. Staich was wearing gloves and was armed with two hammers when he entered the house and walked to the master bedroom. He struck Cynthia Topper before she ran to the kitchen. Robert Topper was armed with a gun and fired at Staich, hitting him and severing one of his fingers. Staich attacked Robert Topper, took the gun away, and repeatedly bludgeoned him with a hammer. While Robert Topper lay on the ground face down, Staich shot him five times, hitting him in the head, chest, and neck at close range.
Staich then ran to the kitchen looking for Cynthia Topper and took the gun from her, which she had to protect herself. He pistol whipped her causing her to sustain brain damage. He then fled the scene to a neighboring house and sought help for his wounds.
Before the December 1983 murder and attempted murder, Staich had dated Cynthia Topper. In June 1983, while a parolee, Staich struck her and threatened to kill her, hitting her in the jaw with his fists. She had to plead for her life and tell him she loved him to make him stop. After she reported the incident to Staich’s halfway house, he threatened to kill her again. Later that month, Staich broke into Cynthia Topper’s home and stole some photographs. He also started calling and harassing Robert Topper. Due to the threats and harassment, Staich’s parole was revoked. On Nov. 17, 1983, he was released but told to stay away from the Toppers.