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Anaheim police to forward 1998 murder case to prosecutors

February 6, 2012 |  9:28 pm

Nuzzio Begaren, left, was arrested with Rafael Garcia Miranda and Jose Luis Sandoval on suspicion of killing Elizabeth Begaren in 1998, police said.
Anaheim police Monday night said they would forward the findings of an investigation into a 14-year-old slaying to the Orange County district attorney's office for possible criminal charges.

Nuzzio Begaren, 50, was arrested with two other men on suspicion of killing his wife, Elizabeth Begaren, who was a corrections officer assigned to the state prison in Lancaster, police said.

Elizabeth Begaren, who was 40, was gunned down Jan. 17, 1998, on an offramp of the 91 Freeway in Anaheim. She was with her husband and his 10-year-old daughter from a previous marriage at the time of the killing.

In a 1998 interview with The Times, Nuzzio Begaren said he believed the family was targeted by attackers who wanted to rob his wife, who was carrying $4,800 in her purse after they had gone shopping at Macy's.

But detectives have concluded that Nuzzio Begaren killed his wife for financial gain, Sgt. Bob Dunn of the Anaheim Police Department said.

He declined Monday night to elaborate on the evidence that led to the arrests, saying only that detectives developed fresh information that helped them crack the case. Detectives were planning to send their findings to the district attorney's office, which would decide if charges will be filed, Dunn said.

Anaheim police told The Times in 1998 that Nuzzio Begaren had taken out a $1-million life insurance policy on his wife months before the slaying.

Also arrested Monday afternoon were Jose Luis Sandoval, 36, and Rafael Garcia Miranda, 45. Both were booked on suspicion of murder and street terrorism, Dunn said.

Dunn said detectives were looking for a fourth man, identified as Guillermo Espinoza, 37, in connection with the killing.

In his interview with The Times, Nuzzio Begaren said the family was on the Golden State Freeway when his daughter noticed that a car had been following them.

Eventually, the family ended up on the 91 Freeway. They began exiting on the offramp in Anaheim, Nuzzio Begaren said in the telephone interview at the time, and his wife made a desperate run for her life as the carload of men caught up with the family.

She had run only a few steps when two of the men caught up with her, according to Nuzzio Begaren.

In a final plea, he said, his wife pulled out her state badge and identified herself as a law enforcement officer.

"When they saw the badge, they shot her," Begaren told The Times. "She was dying, lying down in the blood, with the badge in her hand."

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— Robert J. Lopez

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Photo: Nuzzio Begaren, left, Rafael Garcia Miranda, middle, and Jose Luis Sandoval. Credit: Anaheim Police Department

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