FUGITIVE WANTED FOR 1998 MURDER-FOR-HIRE OF CORRECTIONAL OFFICER ADDED TO OCDA’S MOST WANTED LIST

For Immediate Release
Case # 12ZF0139






May 16, 2013

Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
Office: 714-347-8408
Cell: 714-292-2718

Farrah Emami
Spokesperson
Office: 714-347-8405
Cell: 714-323-4486

FUGITIVE WANTED FOR 1998 MURDER-FOR-HIRE

OF CORRECTIONAL OFFICER ADDED TO OCDA’S MOST WANTED LIST

 

SANTA ANA – A fugitive defendant, Guillermo Espinoza, 38, has been added to the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Most Wanted list. Espinoza was recently featured on America’s Most Wanted website.

 

Espinoza was indicted June 8, 2012, on one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain during a robbery, and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder. In 2012, the defendant’s whereabouts became unknown, and he is believed to be somewhere in California. Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

 

Circumstances of the Case

Sometime between July 1997 and January 1998, Nuzzio Begaren is accused of soliciting members of a Los Angeles criminal street gang to murder his wife Elizabeth Wheat, who was a correctional officer at a California state prison.

 

At approximately 11:00 p.m. on Jan. 17, 1998, Begaren, was driving on the eastbound 91 Freeway in Anaheim with Wheat and Begaren’s 10-year-old daughter. When he stopped his car on the East Street on-ramp, Begaren is accused of getting out of the driver’s seat under the pretense of moving to the back of the vehicle to protect his daughter. The gang members, including Espinoza, are accused of getting out of the vehicle, armed with firearms, and approached Wheat who was in the passenger seat of Begaren’s vehicle. Espinoza is accused of murdering Wheat by shooting her one time in the head and chest, taking her purse containing a $5,000 payment, and fleeing the scene.

 

Espinoza is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with additional information or tips on Espinoza’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact OCDA’s Most Wanted Hotline at (866) 673-2574 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS or online at www.occrimestoppers.org. 

 

For more information on the case, please visit www.orangecountyda.com and select the Feb. 8, 2012, press release titled, “Husband and Two Gang Members Charged with 1998 Cold Case Conspiracy Murder of Wife to Collect $1 Million Life Insurance Policy,” under Press Releases/Media Advisories on the homepage.

 

To view the profile, please visit the homepage www.orangecountyda.com and click on Most Wanted.