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Famalaro Case Casts Pall Over Ex-Fiancee : Relationship: Woman says she was abused but never feared for her life. ‘It’s just been a lot to deal with.’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A woman who was once engaged to John J. Famalaro, the man accused of towing Denise Huber’s frozen body around for three years, said Wednesday that her roller-coaster relationship with him has become a nightmare that casts a shadow over her new life.

“It’s been very hard, obviously, to think that you dated someone a long time and find out you didn’t really know him,” said Nancy L. Gowan, 30, who told investigators that Famalaro once pushed her around and tried to handcuff her.

“In hindsight, it’s a scary thought. There’s a lot that goes through your mind. It’s just been a lot to deal with.”

Though Famalaro was sometimes abusive, Gowan said, she never feared for her life.

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“I was as shocked as anyone else when this story came up.”

Gowan, who listed her occupation in voter registration records as a Marine Corps corporal, said Wednesday that Famalaro’s relatives and detectives from Arizona called her after his arrest last month.

According to police reports released Wednesday in Arizona, Gowan told authorities that she and Famalaro had a rocky relationship and that he often was secretive. She said that she last saw her former fiance in September, 1992, and that he ran up thousands of dollars in debt on her credit cards, according to the reports.

Once, Gowan told authorities, Famalaro tried to handcuff her and she “began screaming and crying.”

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A 10-year resident of Orange County, Gowan said Wednesday that she met Famalaro through a friend and dated him “on and off” for three years. At one time, they planned to marry. They split up “around the time Huber disappeared,” Gowan said.

Now a new mother, engaged to marry another man and living in a new house in a different city, Gowan said she has no desire to revisit her past relationship.

“It’s been hard, especially since I’ve been starting my new life. It’s been very disruptive,” she said, coddling 3-month-old Jake on her shoulder.

“Every time I try not to deal with it, something comes back up and all the phone calls start again,” said Gowan, whose answering machine was full of messages from detectives and reporters when she came home from work Wednesday. “I didn’t want to discuss this with the detectives earlier. I don’t want to talk with anyone about this.”

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Still, Gowan said she will testify at Famalaro’s murder trial if she is needed.

Dozens of friends, acquaintances and former customers of Famalaro have offered a confusing portrait of Famalaro, describing him as a workaholic fascinated by law enforcement who grew up in a high-pressure home with a domineering mother. Gowan, who may know him better than anyone, is similarly befuddled.

“I thought I knew him,” she mused Wednesday. “But who do you really know any more?”


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