A 71-year-old man accused of beating his mother to death in her Corona del Mar home in 1994 has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
In his Jan. 12 plea, John Henry Van Uden III of Dana Point also denied sentencing enhancement allegations of murder for financial gain in the death of 76-year-old Frances Marjorie Van Uden.
He is being held without bail at Theo Lacy jail in Orange. If convicted, he could face life in prison without parole.
Newport Beach detectives began working the case on March 5, 1994, when neighbors called police to report they hadn’t seen the elder Van Uden for two days and had grown concerned.
An officer and a neighbor walked around the side of her house on Keel Drive to the backyard, where they found a door unlocked. The officer opened the door and saw that the bedrooms had been ransacked. Jewelry, cash and credit cards were stolen, police wrote in an affidavit filed in Superior Court. The credit cards were never used.
Frances Marjorie Van Uden’s body was slumped on a sofa with a large wound on the back of the head. Authorities said she had been hit with an unknown blunt object March 3, two days before her body was found.
John Van Uden III was identified as a possible suspect within days of the killing, the affidavit said. But with little evidence, the case grew cold.
Investigators said they eventually linked Van Uden III to the homicide through DNA evidence from the envelope of a parking ticket he received while driving a rented Buick Regal. A neighbor told authorities that the car was at the house the night of the slaying.
Investigators allege Van Uden III paid for the ticket with a money order with the name “Stan King” on it and a nonexistent address in Yorba Linda.
Van Uden III was having financial problems at the time of his mother’s death and had become angry when she removed him as the executor of her will, according to the affidavit.