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Victim, alleged attacker had dated twin sisters

Costa Mesa man who died from stab wounds is remembered as trying hard to be a good father to the daughter he had with one of the sisters.

September 10, 2011|By Lauren Williams

COSTA MESA — The end of a quiet cul-de-sac lined with upscale homes is the place where 6-year-old Catherine Gregory lost her father nearly two weeks ago.

On Aug. 30, police discovered Steven Craig DePhillips, 40, lying in the driveway of the Capri Lane home Catherine lived in with her grandparents, according to Catherine's grandfather, Raymond Gregory.

Earlier in the day, Catherine was playing at the neighboring home of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, who has young daughters.

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At the time of DePhillips' death, the Gregorys were out to dinner. About 6:30 p.m., Gregory received a phone call from one of his twin daughters saying there had been an incident at home.

"We've lived here 14 years," Gregory said. "There's never been, probably, a parking ticket in the neighborhood."

DePhillips was working in the e-waste electronic recycling industry before he died.

"He was busy all the time," Gregory said. "He was doing pretty well."

His work didn't keep him from visiting Catherine, whose mother is Laura Gregory, one of Gregory's twin daughters. DePhillips stopped by the house in the 3000 block of Capri Lane almost daily to see Catherine, Gregory said.

"He was terrific with her," he said. "He was crazy about the child."

Although DePhillips was a "troubled person," he was "trying really hard to be a good father," Righeimer said.

"This is a very, very sad situation," Righeimer said.

Of the houses in the manicured neighborhood, the Gregory home is tucked into the corner of a cul-de-sac. The one-third-acre property stretches out to the Mesa Verde Country Club's 14th fairway.

DePhillips made additions to the sprawling home, put on a new roof and was redoing a bathroom. He also worked on the entryway that is only feet away from where he spent his final moments before being taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where he died of stab wounds to his upper torso and chest.

Few indicators of DePhillips' death remain in the driveway, except a bright pink dot spray-painted by police.

Gregory had few answers as to why DePhillips may have been killed, saying he has "no idea" what circumstances may have led to the stabbing.

In trying to figure out how to break the news to Catherine, her grandparents visited a counselor whose advice was "Don't smooth it over," so they told Catherine that her father died.

"We didn't tell [her] the details," Gregory said.

Police said DePhillips had an altercation with Jeffrey Alec Henderson, 50, during which time he was stabbed.

Gregory said he hadn't seen Henderson in a while, but knew Henderson because in the past he dated his other twin daughter, Lisa.

Services for DePhillips are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Rose Hills Memorial Park, 3888 Workman Mill Road in Whittier.

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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