A man who two years ago told Burbank police his wife was shot to death and he was wounded when they surprised a burglar in their home has been charged with murdering his wife, authorities said Wednesday.
Police said Daniel J. Montecalvo, 48, shot himself as part of an elaborate plan to cover up his part in the March, 1988, death of his 43-year-old wife, Carol.
Montecalvo, who was being held without bail in Los Angeles County Jail, was arrested Tuesday night in Glendale, where he had moved after his wife's death.
He was scheduled to be arraigned today in Burbank Municipal Court on one count of murder.
"It's a bizarre case," Burbank Police Sgt. Don Goldberg said. "The evidence indicates he shot his wife, Carol, to death and then shot himself to make it appear they had been shot by an armed burglar."
Goldberg said the motive for Carol Montecalvo's murder was financial gain, but he would not elaborate.
Police and Deputy Dist. Atty. Penny Schneider, who filed the murder charge, declined to discuss what evidence links Montecalvo, an unemployed hotel manager, to the case.
The gun used in the killing has not been found.
"It is a case that is built totally on circumstantial evidence," Goldberg said. "We have served several search warrants and have physical evidence. We think it is more than sufficient for the filing of charges and to proceed with the case."
At 11 p.m. on March 31, 1988, Montecalvo called police from his home in the 300 block of S. Myers Street and reported that he and his wife had been shot by an intruder.
Carol Montecalvo was found shot to death inside the front door of the home.
Her husband, who had suffered a bullet wound that went completely through his side, was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank where he recovered after surgery.
Daniel Montecalvo told police that he and his wife had been packing for a trip to Hawaii, scheduled to begin the next day, when they took a walk, a nightly ritual for the couple in the middle-class neighborhood.
After returning home, Daniel Montecalvo told police, he was delayed outside while doing some work on his car, and his wife went inside.
He told police he heard shots and his wife's screams and immediately ran inside, where he also was shot.
He told police he saw two intruders, who fled.
Police initially looked for links between the shooting and a similar slaying a year earlier that occurred only four blocks away.
Robert Anderson, an off-duty sheriff's deputy, was fatally shot about midnight Jan. 24, 1987, when he came home and apparently interrupted a burglary in his home in the 1700 block of Oak Street.
But the investigation into the Montecalvo case quickly changed focus.
Goldberg said Daniel Montecalvo became the prime suspect in his wife's death when investigators learned that he had a lengthy criminal record involving violence, and they began to find a "multitude of inconsistencies" in his statements.
"Shortly after the detectives got into the investigation, Mr. Montecalvo became the total focal point, the prime suspect," Goldberg said.
Authorities would not discuss whether Montecalvo is suspected of using details of the highly publicized shooting death of Robert Anderson to plan the killing of his wife.
That killing remains unsolved and Montecalvo is not a suspect, Goldberg said.
Police also declined to reveal the suspect's criminal record.
However, according to court records, Montecalvo was stopped by Glendale police earlier this year for drunk driving and then arrested on suspicion of possession of a gun by an ex-felon when police found a handgun in his car.
Those Jan. 17 charges against Montecalvo cited a 1970 felony conviction in federal court in Baltimore for bank robbery.