Threatening Note Leads to Murder Charges Against Husband, Former Pal
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A laborer who married a wealthy, cancer-ridden widow 40 years his senior is charged with murdering her, authorities said Monday.
″His wife afforded him the luxuries of life,″ said Detective Gerard Sola, one of four homicide investigators on the case. ″I think he wanted that and no part of her.″
Charged in the death of Lorraine Keifer, widow of a successful San Fernando Valley businessman, was Gilberto Flores, a Mexican laborer she married in February 1981 in a Las Vegas wedding chapel. She was 67; he was 27.
Also charged in the death is Andreas Santiago Hernandez, 22, an illegal alien with whom Flores had worked in Mexico.
Flores and Hernandez were formally charged April 5 with the murder, said Deputy District Attorney Phil Halpin on Monday. But detective Ed Entwisle said Flores remains a fugitive believed to be somewhere near Puerto Vallarta, where the Kiefers had a condominium.
The body of Mrs. Kiefer, who was suffering from cancer, was found bludgeoned to death on the dining room floor of her home on Oct. 3.
Flores, who discovered the body at 12:20 a.m., told police he bolted from the house in horror, running to the home of neighbors.
″They stated that when Flores came to their door he was screaming and kicking at their door and was very upset,″ said the first police report written after the murder. ″Flores stated he had returned home and discovered his wife lying on the floor in a pool of blood....″
Soon after the slaying, Flores withdrew about $20,000 from his wife’s bank accounts and returned to Mexico with Luciana Gutierrez, who did light housework at the couple’s home.
Police initially believed the murder was committed by a burglar, but a few weeks later, Ardith Korber, Mrs. Kiefer’s niece, found a threatening note at the home addressed to Flores and signed ″Shorty.″
The note read in part: ″I’ve come by looking for you and you’re not there. If you hide I’ll burn you anyway.″
Two telephone numbers in the letter led police to a Van Nuys home, whose occupants said ″Shorty″ was Hernandez.
On April 8 Mexican Judicial Police arrested Hernandez in Oaxaca, Mexico. He told them Flores offered him $5,000 for Mrs. Kiefer’s murder, Sola said.
″Flores would get drunk and talk with Hernandez. He (Flores) would say he wished she (Mrs. Kiefer) would hurry up and die of cancer,″ Sola said.
Sola said Hernandez admitted going into the house and beating Mrs. Kiefer over the head with a metal pipe, which later was found beneath a sofa in the house.
Hernandez told Mexican police he was paid $5,000 for the murder, but left the letter at the Margate Street home in an attempt to extort more money from Flores, Sola said.