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Wife Allegedly Hired Killer, Faked Carjack

Crime: Software designer Bruce Cleland died in murder-for-hire plot, police say. His parents say whirlwind romance had gone sour.

February 18, 1998|MATEA GOLD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police said the couple had dinner at La Parrilla, a restaurant in Boyle Heights, and then went to her uncle's house nearby.

When they left at about 1 a.m., Rebecca took the wheel of their sports utility vehicle and headed toward Whittier.

Soon afterward, a taxicab driver came upon the murder scene on the empty residential street. He told police he found Rebecca Cleland lying on the ground, apparently unconscious. She sat up, however, as he told residents he had summoned the police.

Detectives said she gave a brief statement and then left.

In South Pasadena, Theda Cleland said she awoke in the middle of the night with shooting pains in her head. The next morning, she and her husband heard the news.

"It was devastating," said Harold Cleland, wiping away tears. "I could hardly handle it and I'm barely holding up now. It's a tragic loss."

Anguished family members said they were slightly relieved by Tuesday's arrest. But nothing, they said, could help them get over Bruce Cleland's murder.

"I can't tell you how horrible this has been," said Theda Cleland. "It's like you lost your whole life and you're still here. All I want is justice. It won't bring him back, but it will alleviate my pain."

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