Police line do not cross
File photo: US police tape Reuters

A 39-year-old man is accused of beating and strangling his 71-year-old father to death in what police have described as "one of the most brutal crime scenes they've ever come across".

NBC reported that the accused, Leighton Dorey IV has been held without bail in after allegedly bludgeoning his father, Leighton Dory III to death on Tuesday (30 May).

He was found dead by his wife after she returned home to their Rancho Santa Fe house in San Diego county after running errands.

The prosecutor said that the wife found her husband dead only 15 minutes after a short phone call during which he said his son was there. She and Dorey had been fearful before, the prosecutor said.

The victim's previous wife is thought to live in Pennsylvania and prosecutors say she bought the accused, her son, a jeep and paid for his ticket to San Diego. He is thought to have been living in France for most of the last few years before the sudden return to California.

The prosecutor added that the relationship between father and son had been "fractious." The victim's injuries were so severe that the district attorney will ask for a torture charge to be brought.

Preliminary hearings are expected to start 15 June - the accused Dorey was not given bail as the prosecutor said there was risk he would attempt to flee.