handcuffs on a table
Photo by Alexander Nguyen

A 70-year-old Dana Point man was arrested Thursday for the alleged financially motivated murder of his mother in Corona del Mar in 1994.

John Henry Van Uden III was charged in an arrest warrant issued Oct. 26 with murder, with a special circumstance allegation of killing for financial gain.

Van Uden’s 76-year-old mother, Frances M. Van Uden, was found beaten to death in the living room of her Corona del Mar home on Keel Drive on March 5, 1994. Anxious neighbors called police because they had not seen the widow in two days, and the family had issued a $50,000 reward for the capture of her killer.

Last week would have marked the 100th birthday of the mother of three and grandmother of five.

Van Uden was arrested at Dana Point Harbor without incident this morning, Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis said.

“He might have thought he got away with it, but he did not,” Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

The arrest was the result of “decades of old-school detective work,” Rackauckas said.

The defendant was a “strong suspect” from the beginning, Lewis said.

A couple of retired detectives from Long Beach were the latest to take a crack at the case and they turned up new clues. Newport Beach City Council members coughed up money to pay the investigators.

“We have never forgotten what happened in March of 1994,” Lewis said.

The case against Van Uden is circumstantial and there is no DNA evidence, Lewis said.

Lewis declined to say what financial gain the defendant allegedly received from the killing.

–City News Service

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