Opening statements are expected to begin this morning in the trial of a Rancho Santa Margarita man accused of murdering his wife of nearly 40 years and then decapitating, dismembering and disposing of her.
Marcia Ann Forsberg's body parts are believed to have been burned near the campground at Lake Piru Recreation Area in Ventura County.
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Said by friends to be the perfect couple, Marcia and Richard Gustavo Forsberg met in a Ventura College journalism class and were often seen even in their later years of marriage holding hands and stealing kisses. He at one point brought his wife, a cancer survivor, dinner every night. Childless, the Coastline Community College computer manager and his former Daily Pilot and Modern Maturity writer wife looked forward to celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary.
But in February 2010, friends and neighbors of the couple noticed Marcia seemed to have disappeared. They started asking Richard right away about her whereabouts. First the story was she was ill with allergies and could not come to the door. Next she was visiting friends in Arizona. He gave one friend a date Marcia would return, but when that day passed the tale changed yet again to the couple having marital problems. One neighbor was informed Marcia was on her way back to celebrate the couple's 40th, another was told, with almost giddy delight, she'd left Richard 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 the changing stories were not adding up. One friend filed a missing person's report with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, which patrols Rancho Santa Margarita, on Aug. 24, 2010. Deputies went to the couple's home to question Richard, who reportedly told investigators he had not seen or heard from Marcia since she left March 13 for Arizona.
Why, detectives wondered, had he never filed a missing person report? The sheriff's department could not even verify Marcia had been in Arizona or used her cell phone or credit cards since the friends and neighbors first started asking where she was in February.
Investigators returned to the Forsberg home with a search warrant. By then, Richard was gone, as was Marcia's car. He had not been to work. He was identified as a "person of interest" in his wife's disappearance due to undisclosed evidence found in the condo. DMV photos of the couple were splashed across television screens throughout Southern California, prompting a nurse at a Palm Springs hospital to inform investigators Richard had been a patient there since overdosing on sleeping pills.
Sheriff's investigators and Orange County District Attorney's office prosecutors believe the Forsbergs got into an argument on Feb. 9, 2010, that ended with Richard grabbing a small statue in their home and hitting Marcia several times in the head until she was dead.
Over the next few days, things got grislier, according to authorities. Forsberg allegedly chopped off his beloved's head and limbs and bought two freezers to store the body parts that he would drive in a rented RV to Ventura County for disposal.
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He is charged with one felony count of murder.
The 63-year-old would essentially spend the rest of his life in state prison if he is convicted and receives the maximum sentence: 25 years to life.
These were supposed to be the golden years.