|For Immediate Release
November 27, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
OCDA TO OPPOSE PAROLE OF INMATE CONVICTED OF ATTEMPTED MURDER OF EX-GIRLFRIEND AND SHOOTING-MURDER OF HER HUSBAND
SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas is opposing the parole of a man convicted of the attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend and murder of her husband in 1983. Ivan Von Staich, 55, was found guilty of murder and attempted murder with sentencing enhancements for the use of a deadly weapon and inflicting great bodily injury. Von Staich was sentenced May 23, 1986, to 30 years to life in prison and is currently being held at the California Men’s Colony (CMC), San Luis Obispo. This case was originally prosecuted by former Deputy District Attorney Richard King. Von Staich is scheduled for a parole hearing tomorrow, Nov. 28, 2012, at CMC before the Board of Parole Hearings, California Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephan Sauer will appear at the hearing to oppose parole.
Circumstances of 1983 Murder and Attempted Murder
At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Dec. 8, 1983, then-27-year-old Von Staich arrived at the home of his ex-girlfriend Cynthia Topper, and her husband Robert Topper. He armed himself with two hammers, cut the telephone wire to the Toppers’ house, kicked open the front door, and proceeded to the bedroom where the Toppers were sleeping. He struck Cynthia Topper with a hammer before she fled to the kitchen.
Robert Topper armed himself with a firearm, which he kept for protection, and fired at Von Staich, severing one of his fingers. Von Staich attacked Robert Topper, wrestled the gun away, and repeatedly bludgeoned him with a hammer. Von Staich then executed Robert Topper by shooting him five times with Topper’s firearm while he was on the ground. Von Staich then chased Cynthia Topper into the kitchen, where she had retrieved another gun to protect herself. The gun was not loaded. Von Staich took the gun from Cynthia Topper and pistol whipped her in the head, causing skull fractures. Doctors later had to perform two separate lobotomies on Cynthia Topper, removing large portions of her brain.
In 1983, Cynthia Topper has been a college student but after Von Staich’s brutal beating, she was left with the mental capability of a 5th grader.
History of Violence
Months prior to the murder, on June 20, 1983, Von Staich was released from prison on parole. He convinced Cynthia Topper to pick him up even though they were no longer a couple. While she was driving, Von Staich struck her in the jaw with his fists and threatened to kill her. She had to plead for her life and tell him she loved him in order to make him stop. After she reported the incident to Von Staich’s halfway house, he threatened to kill her again. Later that month, Von Staich broke into Cynthia Topper’s home and stole photographs. He also began calling and harassing Robert Topper. Due to the threats and harassment, Von Staich’s parole was revoked. On Nov. 17, 1983, he was released with the order to stay away from the Toppers.