‘Definitely Murdered,’ Police Say : Body Identified as Missing Wife of Detective

Times Staff Writer

An autopsy Wednesday determined that a body found in the back seat of an abandoned car Tuesday morning was that of Marie Andrea Malmgreen of Brea, the missing wife of a Los Angeles police detective.

However, the cause of death could not immediately be determined, in part because the body was badly decomposed, authorities said. They said there were no visible wounds that indicated how Mrs. Malmgreen died and that further lab work is under way.

Fullerton police--who are investigating the case because Mrs. Malmgreen’s body was found in her 1981 Cadillac parked in a dirt lot in that city--said the woman was “definitely murdered.” Investigators have no suspects in the slaying, Fullerton Police Capt. Don Bankhead said.


Mrs. Malmgreen, 38, had not been seen since she dropped off her 16-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son at a school near their home April 22. Later that day, after Mrs. Malmgreen missed a lunch appointment and an exercise class, a description of her light blue Cadillac Biarritz was broadcast to police agencies.

Fullerton Police Sgt. Jeffrey Roop was on patrol Tuesday morning when he discovered the car a few blocks from the Cal State Fullerton campus, parked among others in a field behind an apartment complex at Bastanchury and Associated roads.

Dust on the car indicated it had been parked there for several days, police said. The body was found beneath a blanket on the back seat.

Bankhead said the Orange County coroner’s office, which performed the autopsy, positively identified the body as that of Mrs. Malmgreen. He said that he did not know when the woman was killed but that she had been dead for “several days.” The coroner’s office would not discuss the case and referred all questions to Fullerton police.

A Brea police detective initially investigating the case and a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman both had said previously that they did not think the woman’s disappearance was connected with her husband’s work. On Wednesday, police would not comment on the possibility of such a connection.

LAPD Commander Bill Booth said: “When there was a missing persons investigation and we were assisting on a missing persons case, I said at that time that there was no connection to her being missing and her husband’s work or jobs. Now Fullerton has a murder investigation and protocol and wisdom tell that any comments regarding a murder come from . . . them.”

The victim’s husband,Detective Russell Malmgreen, who is a liaison officer between judges and Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, worked in the LAPD’s anti-terrorist division until two months ago. He is a 19-year police veteran and has not been at work since his wife vanished, according to Booth.