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Husband of correctional officer slain in 1998 is arrested

The husband of a state correctional officer who was slain in Anaheim 14 years ago has been arrested with two other men in connection with the killing, police said Monday.

Elizabeth Begaren, who was 40, was shot Jan. 17, 1998, on an offramp of the 91 Freeway in Anaheim. She was with her husband, Nuzzio Begaren, and his 10-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

In a 1998 interview with The Times, Nuzzio Begaren said he believed the family was targeted by attackers who wanted to rob his wife, who was carrying $4,800 in her purse after they had gone shopping.

But Monday, police said Begaren was involved in the slaying.

Begaren, 50, was arrested in Rancho Cucamonga on Monday afternoon on suspicion of murdering his wife for financial gain, said Sgt. Bob Dunn of the Anaheim Police Department.

Dunn said detectives had not released details about the alleged plot. But Anaheim police told The Times in 1998 that the husband had taken out a $1-million life insurance policy on his wife months before the slaying.

Two other men were also arrested Monday in connection with the killing. Jose Luis Sandoval, 36, was arrested in Santa Ana on suspicion of murder and street terrorism, police said. Rafael Garcia Miranda, 45, was apprehended in Cudahy on suspicion of murder and street terrorism.

Dunn said detectives were looking for a fourth man, Guillermo Espinoza, 37.

In his interview with The Times, Nuzzio Begaren said the family were in their blue Kia Sportage on the 5 Freeway when his daughter noticed that a car had been following them. Eventually, he said, they wound up on the 91 Freeway and exited in Anaheim. As the carload of men caught up with the family on the offramp, Begaren said, his wife got out of the car and made a desperate run for her life

She'd run only a few steps when two of the men stopped her, according to Begaren. In a final plea, he said, his wife pulled out her state badge and identified herself as a law enforcement officer. She had been working at the state prison in Lancaster.

"When they saw the badge, they shot her," Begaren told The Times. "She was dying, lying down in the blood, with the badge in her hand."

Begaren said he was "90% sure" the family had been targeted during their shopping trip.

Begaren said he told Anaheim police his wife had been robbed of the money. He said he gave detectives the license number of the attackers' vehicle, a dark blue late-1970s Oldsmobile. He said there were four men in the car: two African Americans and two white or Latino men.

But he complained that the detective in charge of the investigation was not interested.

"He doesn't care what I'm going through," said Begaren, who at the time was an unemployed restaurateur. "All he wants to do is interview my little girl."

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