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Lawyer arrested in woman's slaying 20 years ago

The man is accused of killing his then-girlfriend's daughter so the girlfriend could obtain custody of a granddaughter. A San Bernardino County sheriff's unit reopened the cold case last year.

October 22, 2009|Ruben Vives

A San Diego lawyer who wrote a book on Internet dating was arrested Wednesday for allegedly killing his girlfriend's daughter 20 years ago so the girlfriend could gain custody of her granddaughter.

Eric Fagan, 74, was arrested about 7 a.m. at his Chula Vista home as he was getting ready for his morning jog, said Jodi Miller, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, which made the arrest.

He was being held without bail at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, Miller said.

He is scheduled to appear in court Friday in Victorville.

The arrest stems from an unsolved homicide that dates back two decades.

Cathy Paternoster, 32, and her partner, Carl Fuerst, 41, were shot Oct. 11, 1989, outside their home in Spring Valley Lake. Although Paternoster's three young daughters were with them at the time, none of the girls was injured, authorities said.

Paternoster, who police said was the daughter of Fagan's then-girlfriend, died of her injuries. Fuerst, the biological father of one of Pasternoster's daughters, was severely injured, Miller said.

The sheriff's cold-case unit reopened the investigation last year. After numerous interviews, investigators came to believe that Fagan had lain in wait for the pair before shooting them and fleeing to Orange County.

Fagan had a long-established relationship with Paternoster's mother, and the couple lived together at one point, authorities said. Investigators believe that Fagan killed Paternoster so that custody of one of her daughters would go to his girlfriend. Miller said she did not know the name of Paternoster's mother.

Fagan is a civil attorney in San Diego and has written various books, including "Cast Your Net, a Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Your Soul Mate on the Internet."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call detectives at (909) 387-3589.

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

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