Arrest warrant issued for suspect in 1998 prison guard slaying

LARRY WELBORN AND VIK JOLLY (THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER) | April 10, 2012

SANTA ANA – An ongoing cold-case investigation into the 1998 shooting death of a female prison guard near the 91 Freeway in Anaheim led to an arrest warrant for a fourth suspect, authorities said Tuesday.

Charges were filed in February against three other men, including the woman’s husband. He was accused of orchestrating the murder of Elizabeth Wheat Begaren so that he could collect on a $1 million life insurance policy.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office in February filed special-circumstances murder charges against Nuzzio Begaren, 51, and reputed gang members Jose Louis Sandoval, 36, and Rafael Garcia Miranda, 45.

On Tuesday, authorities announced they are also seeking to arrest Guillermo Espinoza, 37, allegedly one of the gang members hired by Nuzzio Begaren to kill his wife. He was earlier listed as a person of interest. The whereabouts of Espinoza is unknown.

The investigation is continuing and there is a possibility of other arrests, authorities said Tuesday.

“We are confident that soon everyone responsible for this murder will be brought to justice,” Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin said.

Elizabeth Begaren was shot to death shortly before midnight on Jan. 17, 1998, after stepping out of the family minivan on the East Street off-ramp of the 91 freeway after her husband, who was driving, pulled over.

He claimed at the time that four gang members in an Oldsmobile sedan had been following them from a Burbank Macy’s store as he drove with his wife and his 10-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. He said the gang forced him off the freeway, robbed him of $4,700 in cash and shot his wife when they saw her Department of Corrections badge, according to authorities.

Read more at: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/begaren-348631-authorities-gang.html

Photo credit: ROSE PALMISANO, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

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