Richard Gustav Forsberg would bring his wife dinner every night, but their neighbors in Rancho Santa Margarita noticed 61-year-old Marcia Ann Forsberg was not around beginning in February. They asked the hubby, a computer manager who is also 61, what happened to his wife of nearly 40 years. First he said she was inside the home battling allergies. Later he told friends the cancer survivor was visiting friends in Arizona. The story changed yet again to include talk of marital problems and a possible separation.
Six months after Marcia first went missing, neighbors contacted authorities.
Last night, Richard was arrested for the murder of his high school sweetheart.
Neighbors on Cascada became suspicious when Richard gave them a date for Marcia's return from her trip and she did not show up.
That's when the husband Marcia was said to be so devoted to mentioned problems with their marriage and separation.
But her friends could not reach her via her cell phone. Marcia always maintained close contact with her friends. One in Oxnard contacted neighbors saying she was concerned for Marcia and asking if they'd seen her lately.
Richard tried to calm everyone down by saying his wife was due home at the end of September to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.
But he was acting so strangely--and his story was changing so frequently--that the Orange County Sheriff's Department that patrols Rancho Santa Margarita was contacted.
Richard Forsberg reportedly told investigators he had not seen 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 Forsberg home the next day to follow up with Richard. By then, he had also vanished. He failed to show up again at home or work. Marcia's car was missing.
After breaking into the home and searching for clues, investigators named Richard a "person of interest" in the case of his missing wife.
Television newscasts across Southern California carried the story, and a viewer to KTLA/Channel 5 contacted authorities to say Richard had been seen in the Palm Springs area.
Mr. Forsberg was found in a Palm Springs hospital Monday. He was questioned all day, then returned to Orange County for booking.
The charge: murder.
"He did make incriminating statements that implicated himself in his wife's murder," Jim Amormino, the Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman, told reporters this morning.
He said Forsberg is believed to have murdered his wife inside their home and then dumped her body somewhere else.
"Mr. Forsberg rented a vehicle and transported the body to the secondary location," Amormino said. "We do not have that location at this time."
Deputies are confident they will find the doting wife's body, although they remain unclear about a motive.
Thank God for nosy neighbors.
UPDATE: Deputies this afternoon are focusing their search efforts for Marcia's remains on a fire pit at Lake Piru near Los Padres National Forest. Meanwhile, the Orange County District Attorney's Office has issued a statement on the charges against Richard 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.