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Forsberg Butchered Wife's Corpse and Torched It, Detective Says

Grisly details surface at the preliminary hearing of Richard Forsberg, who is accused of killing his wife in 2010.

Chilling new details emerged Friday about Richard Gustav Forsberg's alleged murder and dismemberment of his wife, Marcia Ann.

At a preliminary hearing, the 61-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita man listened as three detectives recounted the slaying and its gory aftermath, which they reconstructed largely from Forsberg's alleged hospital confession after he attempted suicide as investigators closed in on him as a suspect.

The main thread of the prosecution's case has : that Forsberg killed his wife of 39 years, hid her body for several days before burning it in Ventura County, and told neighbors—and others—that she was visiting friends or that they had separated.

The courtroom testimony Friday provided the most specfic details to date.

According to homicide investigator Mike Thompson of the Orange County Sheriff's Department, Forsberg bludgeoned his wife in the head with a statue about 1 a.m. on Feb. 9, 2010.

That afternoon, he purchased hacksaw blades and garbage bags from a hardware store. He then allegedly cut her body into several pieces and placed them in the bags. He put some parts in an ice-filled plastic tub and some in a freezer in the garage of their condominium, the detective said. The following day, Forsberg purchased an ice chest in which he stored all the body parts.

Ten days later, on Feb. 19, Forsberg allegedly transferred the body parts to a newly purchased ice chest and rented an RV, which he drove from their residence on Cascada to Lake Piru in Ventura County. There, Thompson said, Forsberg burned one body part as a test before moving to a more secluded area to burn the remaining parts except for the torso.

Over the next week at his home, Forsberg allegedly cut the torso into smaller pieces and returned to Lake Piru the following weekend to burn the remainder of the body.

Forsberg later donated the ice chests to thrift stores, although one was recovered by investigators, prosecutors said.

Thompson said investigators interviewed Forsberg on Aug. 24, after which he promptly left the area. About a week later, he turned up in a Palm Springs hospital after trying to commit suicide with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. There, he was again interviewed by investigators and allegedly confessed to the killing. He was arrested Aug. 30.

Prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh said Friday's hearing went well: "The judge held him to answer, there were no surprises, we introduced the confession ... [and] evidence that the victim has never been seen since Feb. 9."

Arraignment is scheduled for June 21. If convicted of murder with special circumstance of lying in wait, Forsberg faces a sentence of life without parole.

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