Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR MURDERING ROOMMATE TO GAIN ACCESS TO HER BANK ACCOUNTS
*Defendant convicted in Colorado of attempting to murder police officer while a fugitive in this case
SANTA ANA – A man faces arraignment tomorrow for murdering his roommate with the help of his girlfriend so that the couple could steal money from the victim’s bank account. Nicholas James Vovos, 26, is charged with one felony count of murder with sentencing enhancements for murder for financial gain and murder during the commission of another felony, kidnapping. He faces a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole if convicted. Vovos’ girlfriend, Debbie Miller, was killed after engaging Colorado police in a shoot-out while a fugitive for this murder. Vovos is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, Friday, May 30, 2008 at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Between June 13, 2005 and July 31, 2005, Vovos and his girlfriend Miller are accused of murdering 62-year-old Carolyn Avdeef in order to gain control of her bank accounts. Vovos is accused of moving into the victim’s house with his girlfriend in May 2005. Vovos is accused of stealing money from Avdeef with Miller by accessing the victim’s bank accounts and taking her debit card and personal identification number. To maintain their ability to continue stealing money from the victim, Vovos and Miller are accused of tying Avdeef’s hands behind her back, binding her ankles, strangling, and murdering her. They are accused of burying the victim’s body in a shallow grave in the San Bernardino mountains.
Avdeef was reported missing on June 22, 2005, by co-workers who became concerned when the victim did not show up at work. The victim’s body was discovered on July 31, 2005, by a hiker who was out walking her dog.
Vovos and Miller are accused of fleeing the State and continuing to use the victim’s debit card to withdraw money as they traveled across the country. Police in Colorado located the defendant and Miller after receiving information that the couple may be driving through the state. Vovos and Miller are accused of shooting at Colorado police when officers attempted to apprehend them. Officers returned fire and Debbie Miller was shot and killed. Vovos was convicted in Colorado in 2007 of attempting to murder a police officer and is serving a 10 to 38-year sentence in that state. He was brought back to Orange County on May 17, 2008, to face charges for the murder of Avdeef. If convicted, he will serve the remainder of his Colorado sentence in California.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.