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Husband arrested in 1998 killing of his wife in Anaheim

February 6, 2012 |  5:56 pm

Elizabeth Begaren was killed in 1998. Her husband was arrested in connection with the slayingThe husband of a former state correctional officer who was slain in Anaheim 14 years ago has been arrested with two other men in connection with the killing, police said Monday afternoon.

Elizabeth Begaren, who was 40, was shot on Jan. 17, 1998, as she and her husband, Nuzzio Begaren, drove in the family's blue Kia Sportage on an offramp of the 91 Freeway in Anaheim. They were with his 10-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

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 on Monday, police said Nuzzio Begaren was involved in the slaying.

Begaren, 50, was arrested in Rancho Cucamonga early Monday afternoon on suspicion of murdering his wife for financial gain, Sgt. Bob Dunn of the Anaheim Police Department said.

Dunn said detectives had not released details regarding the alleged plot. But Anaheim police told The Times in 1998 that the husband had taken out a $1-million life insurance policy on his wife months before the slaying.

Two other men were also arrested Monday afternoon in connection with the killing.

Jose Luis Sandoval, 36, was arrested in Santa Ana on suspicion of murder and street terrorism, police said. Rafael Garcia Miranda, 45, was apprehended in Cudahy on suspicion of murder and street terrorism.

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

Anaheim police were planing to release additional details at a Monday evening news conference.

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.

They pulled off the freeway offramp in Anaheim, he 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'd 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. She had been working at the state prison in Lancaster.

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

Begaren said he was "90% sure" the family had been targeted by the men during their shopping trip to Macy's.

"There was no reason for someone to follow us," he said. "We have no enemies."

Begaren said he told Anaheim police his wife had been robbed of the money. He said he gave detectives the license number of the attackers' vehicle, a dark blue late-1970s Oldsmobile.

There were four men in the car, he said. He described them as two African Americans and two white or Latino men.

But he complained that the Anaheim police detective in charge of the investigation was not interested.

"He doesn't care what I'm going through," said Begaren, who at the time was an unemployed restaurateur. "All he wants to do is interview my little girl."


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Photo: Elizabeth Begaren. Credit: Los Angeles Times