Victim in rural SLO killing told of roommate trouble, sister says

Walter Ernest Vallivero with his sister, Monica Boyd, in an undated photo.
Walter Ernest Vallivero with his sister, Monica Boyd, in an undated photo. Courtesy of Monica Boyd

The sister of a man allegedly killed by his roommate in his rural San Luis Obispo home said her brother was in the process of evicting the renter in the weeks leading up to his death, but said there was no indication of potential violence.

Walter Ernest Vallivero, 54, a longtime San Luis Obispo County resident who began renting out a room at the family’s rural Rancho Oaks Drive residence in 2012, was found Monday after the Sheriff’s Office received a call from an undisclosed person who said there was an altercation at the residence and that Vallivero was seriously injured or dead, according to a police incident report.

His roommate, 40-year-old Charles Chad Giese, allegedly confessed to the killing and was arrested later that morning, the officer wrote.

On Thursday, Giese made his first appearance in San Luis Obispo Superior Court for an arraignment before Judge Dodie Harman. He did not enter a plea, however, because his newly appointed public defender had only been provided an eight-sentence summary report of the incident from law enforcement.

Giese is due back in court next week.

Since Giese’s arrest, officials have released very few details about a possible motive, the events leading up to the crime or Vallivero’s injuries.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla said the agency is referring all questions about the case to the District Attorney’s Office. Deputy District Attorney Jesse Marino, who represented the District Attorney’s Office in Thursday’s hearing, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Vallivero’s sister, Monica Boyd, described her brother as honest, loving and charismatic.

He was a genuine, up-front kind of guy who had a soft spot for people less fortunate. ... Honest to a fault.

Monica Boyd, victim’s sister, on her late brother

“He was just a bright light,” Boyd said in a telephone interview from her home in New Zealand. “Despite all this, he was just a lovely, lovely man and a good soul.”

Boyd said he was an animal lover who liked to tinker on projects and invent things, and could take apart a bicycle and convert it into a motorized bike. He also had a soft spot for people down on their luck, she said.

“He was a genuine, up-front kind of guy who had a soft spot for people less fortunate. ... Honest to a fault,” Boyd said. “Feisty, yes, but being half Italian, you tend to get that.”

A star track-and-field athlete at his high school in Brookings, Ore., he won several first-place ribbons, which, along with newspaper clippings of his accomplishments, still hung on the walls of his San Luis Obispo home when she last visited, she said. He moved to San Luis Obispo in 1980 and worked as a machinist before a serious neck injury affected his ability to work, she said, and had lived a simple, “frugal” life since.

He is survived by an adult son, with whom he had been estranged for many years, Boyd said.

Boyd said her brother told her of mounting troubles with Giese in several phone conversations in the weeks leading up to Vallivero’s death. Though he expressed concern over Giese’s increasingly odd behavior, she said he never indicated he thought Giese was violent. But she sensed he may have been more intimidated than he tried to let on, she said.

“He just said the guy would creep around the house in the early-morning hours, just sneaking around,” she said.

A couple weeks ago, Boyd said, her brother told her Giese had amassed a large amount of back rent and was told he would not be allowed back in until he settled his debt. Vallivero said he changed the locks in the house, she said, but soon relented after being told by a responding sheriff’s deputy, presumably after a complaint by Giese, that he was obligated to provide Giese a 30-day eviction notice. The Tribune has not been able to independently verify this.

He just said (Giese) would creep around the house in the early morning hours, just sneaking around.

Monica Boyd, victim’s sister, on recent conversation with her brother

Boyd said she wants answers as to the specifics of her brother’s death but as of Friday evening had not been contacted by any San Luis Obispo County law enforcement officials.

Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Nathan Paul, whose eight-sentence synopsis of his investigation was the only record released by authorities, only raised more questions when he wrote that Giese confessed to the killing and had used a baseball bat and knife, and that evidence at the home “indicated that Vallivero’s death was by traumatic means.”

In court Thursday, public defender Patricia Ashbaugh told Judge Harman that she had only been given that one-page document and needed more information before she could decide whether the Public Defender’s Office would remain on the case.

Harman ruled that Giese would remain in custody without bail until a further arraignment hearing Tuesday.