UPDATES THROUGHOUT . . .
Richard and Marcia Forsberg were said by friends to be the perfect couple. They met in a Ventura College journalism class and were looking forward to their 40th wedding anniversary at the end of this month.
The pair of 61-year-olds, who had no children, were often seen holding hands and stealing kisses, happy as clams. Richard at one point brought his wife, a cancer survivor, dinner every night.
But neighbors began noticing in February that Marcia was not popping out of the couple's tan 2-story condominium in Rancho Santa Margarita every morning to wave goodbye to Richard as he headed for work as a Coastline Community College computer manager.
Marcia used to write features at the Daily Pilot, later worked at Modern Maturity and attained her master's in art. She had friends all over the place.
Yet, no one could reach her on her cell phone.
Richard told his neighbors on Cascada that Marcia was ill with allergies and could not come to the door. Next came a story about her visiting friends in Arizona. After a day he'd said she'd return came and went, he said the couple was suffering marital problems and contemplating a separation.
He told one neighbor his wife would be back later this month to celebrate their 40th anniversary. He told another, with almost giddy delight, Marcia had left him for good.
When a childhood friend of Marcia's told neighbors she was concerned for Marcia's well-being because she had not sent her a birthday card as usual, Richard's answers about her Arizona whereabouts first appeased her. But then things did not add up.
The friend filed a missing person's report with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, which patrols Rancho Santa Margarita, on Aug. 24.
Deputies went to Richard's home to question him. He reportedly told investigators he had not seen or heard from his wife since she left March 13 for Arizona.
And yet, he never filed a missing person report.
Detectives could not verify Marcia was ever in Arizona or that she'd used her cell phone or credit cards since February. So they returned to the Cascada condo, this time with a search warrant.
But Richard was gone, as was Marcia's car. He had not been to work.
Richard was identified as a "person of interest" in his wife's disappearance, based on undisclosed evidence uncovered after deputies broke into the couple's condo.
Authorities were now dealing with two missing people. DMV photos of the couple were splashed across television screens throughout Southern California.
Have you seen this couple?
A nurse at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs had seen Richard. She recognized him from a photo shown on a KTLA/Channel 5 newscast.
Richard was a patient being treated at the hospital after he tried to overdose on sleeping pills following a night of gambling.
Detectived questioned Forsberg all day in Palm Springs, then returned him to Orange County for booking on Aug. 30.
The charge: murder.
According to authorities, Marcia Ann Forsberg had been dead since neighbors first noticed her missing in February.
They say during an argument in her home on Feb. 9, she turned her back on her college sweetheart and he hit her several times in the head with the statue, killing her.
He is then alleged to have kept the body in the home until he could rent the RV and drive her to a Lake Piru area campground.
Deputies confined their search for Marcia's remains to a fire pit there. They have not confirmed that Richard is believed to have burned her body, but searchers were sifting through ashes for hours this week.
The department claims to have uncovered "interesting" items in the pit that are now being examined in the Orange County crime lab.
Richard was arraigned Wednesday for one felony count of special circumstances murder by lying in wait.
He faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
He is being held in Men's Central Jail without bail.
Here is a link to our previous version of this post. The Orange County District Attorney's Office issued a statement on the charges against Richard Gustav Forsberg, which is on the next page.
August 31, 2010
HUSBAND CHARGED WITH SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER OF WIFE OF 39 YEARS BY HITTING HER OVER HEAD WITH SMALL STATUE
SANTA ANA - A husband has been charged with murdering his long-time wife by hitting her repeatedly over the head with a small statue after an argument in their Rancho Santa Margarita home. Richard Gustav Forsberg, 61, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder by lying in wait and faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. Forsberg is being held without bail and is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
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On Feb. 9, 2010, the defendant is accused of getting into a verbal argument with his wife Marcia Ann Forsberg, whom he had been married to for 39 years. Forsberg is accused of surprising the victim by grabbing a small statue and hitting her multiple times in the head, murdering her. He is accused of keeping her body in their home over the next few days until he rented a recreational vehicle (RV). He is accused of using the RV to drive the victim's body to a campground, Lake Piru Recreation Area in Ventura County, where he disposed of the body.
When questioned by friends about the whereabouts of his wife, Forsberg is accused of claiming that they were having some marital problems and that she had left town to be on her own. On Aug. 24, 2010, concerned friends of the victim reported her missing. The Orange County Sheriff's Department began investigating the case.
Forsberg was arrested yesterday, Aug. 30, 2010, at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. The defendant had been admitted to the hospital and a citizen contacted the police after recognizing him from media coverage requesting public assistance locating the defendant and his wife.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.