A Frenchtown resident with a lurid legal history is being held in the Missoula County jail on a warrant from California.
Although the warrant says that David Wayne Sconce, 56, is wanted on a charge of deliberate homicide, a spokeswoman from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said he’s actually sought for persistent violations of his lifetime parole.
Spokeswoman Sandy Gibbons confirmed that Sconce was involved in the Lamb Funeral Home case in Pasadena, Calif., in the late 1980s. According to extensive coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Sconce and his parents were accused of mutilation of corpses and alleged mishandling of hundreds of cremations, some of them at a ceramics factory.
At trial, his parents blamed Sconce for extracting dental gold from corpses and commingling cremated remains, the Times reported.
Sconce served 2 1/2 years in a California prison after pleading guilty to 21 charges in connection with that case, according to the Times. The conditions in that case included the lifetime parole, Gibbons said Friday.
Because the legal paperwork filed Friday against Sconce in Missoula County included the deliberate homicide allegation, Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech did not set bail, noting that the charge carries the possibility of the death penalty.
In addition to the funeral home case, Sconce was accused in California of trying to kill the owner of a rival crematory by poisoning his drink with oleander, although that case was dismissed in 1991, the Times reported. Three years later, he pleaded guilty to selling forged bus tickets in Arizona, where he had been working as a bus driver, the Times reported.
In 2008, Sconce – who by then was living in Frenchtown – filed a complaint in federal court in Missoula against the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision and its Helena director.
That complaint alleged that the commission violated his civil rights by listing him as a violent offender, something that kept him from getting a job as a school bus driver – work he said he’d done in three states while on probation – for the Frenchtown School District.
“I have also been published as a ‘violent’ offender in the local newspaper, which makes it nearly impossible to be employable in this small area where I must remain due to being on probation,” he wrote. The complaint was dismissed.
In April, a federal grand jury in Missoula indicted Sconce on four counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Sconce claimed he borrowed a rifle from a neighbor after his dog, Bart, was attacked by wolves, according to court documents. (He later was charged with misdemeanor theft after again taking the rifle while his neighbor was gone, and pawning it, according to the documents.)
In October, Sconce was sentenced to five years’ probation in connection with that case.
“Over the years, he’s been in and out of court on probation violations,” Gibbons said. “... We are proceeding with the paperwork necessary to extradite him to Los Angeles.”
Sconce’s next hearing in Missoula County District Court is Jan. 28.
Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, email@example.com or @CopsAndCourts.