Preliminary hearing begins for caregiver accused of murdering Rancho Bernardo man
By Kelly Wheeler
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An 89-year-old Rancho Bernardo man who went missing after his bank accounts were drained in the wake of his second wife’s death told his daughter he didn’t want to move to the Midwest but instead was planning to live with a woman named “Denise,” according to testimony Monday.
The testimony came at a preliminary hearing for Denise Michelle Goodwin, 45, who is charged with murder and a special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain in the death of Gerald Eugene Rabourn.
The senior disappeared in October 2010. His body has never been found, but there is no evidence he is still alive, according to authorities.
Goodwin was hired through a senior care service to see to the needs of Rabourn’s 91-year-old wife, Carolyn, who died of cancer on Sept. 29, 2010. At Goodwin’s arraignment last year, prosecutor Bill Mitchell said Rabourn trusted Goodwin with all his assets, and within days of his wife’s death, she allegedly began converting those assets for her own personal use.
Goodwin also allegedly dissuaded family members from contacting police by giving them inconsistent reports regarding Rabourn’s whereabouts after his wife’s death.
Mary Weaver, Raybourn’s daughter from his first marriage, testified that she tried in October 2010 to convince her father to move to the Midwest, but he said “he was planning to live with Denise.”
Days later, when she checked back with her father, he said he was staying put in his home, Weaver testified.
Police said there was an abrupt end to Rabourn’s family contacts, cell phone use and financial activity after Oct. 21, 2010. After that date, his signature on a document to sell the family home and a title document to transfer ownership of his car were forged, according to authorities.
Weaver said her father was financially “well” and had told her “he was leaving everything to me.”
She said an attorney she spoke with told her that her father and Goodwin had come to his office to change his will, but the attorney reassured Weaver that Goodwin couldn’t get any of her father’s money.
She said she last spoke to her father on Oct. 19, 2010, but didn’t report him missing until the following February, when she didn’t get a birthday card from him.
“He’s dead. That’s what it made me think,” Weaver told the prosecutor Monday.
Goodwin was arrested in July 2011 as she boarded a plane for a European vacation.
In addition to murder and the special circumstance allegation, she is charged with elder abuse, embezzlement by a trustee, grand theft, forgery and auto theft – 11 counts in all.
Goodwin’s son, Michael, is charged with possession of a stolen car.
The preliminary hearing is expected to last all week. At its conclusion, Judge Charles Gill will determine whether enough was presented to order Goodwin to stand trial on the charges, which could result in the death penalty or life in prison without parole if she is convicted.
A decision by the district attorney on whether to pursue a death sentence would come later in the case.
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