Bruce Cleland was smitten with Rebecca Salcedo from the moment he met her. But their whirlwind romance ended not too long after when he was brutally murdered in what seemed like an attempted carjacking. However, the police looking into the case believed the evidence pointed to a more personal motive. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Scorned: Fatal Fury: Murder Stripped Down’ focuses on the cold-blooded scheme to have Bruce killed for financial gain. So, if you’re curious to find out what happened, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Bruce Cleland Die?
Bruce Cleland was a quiet and shy man who was close to his parents. After graduating from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, Bruce attended Stanford University in the same state. At the time of the incident, he worked as a Software Designer for a firm and made quite a bit of money. The 43-year-old met Rebecca Salcedo at a swap meet in December 1995, where she sold spices. Eventually, they married in a civil ceremony before having a church wedding in January 1997.
On July 25, 1997, the couple had dinner at a restaurant before heading to Rebecca’s uncle’s house for drinks. They left from there at around 1 am, with Rebecca driving. Sometime later, a cab driver passing through a secluded street found her lying on the ground and Bruce in a driveway across the road in a pool of blood. He had been shot thrice in the head and once in the back, and the car was still running when the police arrived.
Who Killed Bruce Cleland?
Rebecca Salcedo told the authorities that on their drive home, a light on her dashboard suggested that the rear hatch wasn’t closed. So, she pulled over and got out of the car to shut it. However, Rebecca claimed someone hit her in the head and knocked her unconscious before she woke up to find Bruce dead. It appeared that he was first shot in the face while in the car. Then, as he tried to escape, the killer shot him in the back and two more times in the head.
While the authorities considered a possible carjacking, the couple’s valuables were still inside the vehicle, and it felt more like someone was waiting for them to come before killing Bruce. Furthermore, the route that Rebecca took aroused suspicion. It was about four miles out of the way to their home in Whittier, California. Also, the police later stated that Rebecca’s demeanor was a cause for concern. They claimed she appeared “relaxed, lackadaisical, uninterested.”
Finally, paramedics who checked on Rebecca found no signs of injury despite her claim that she was struck in the head. The authorities then looked into the couple’s personal life. During the initial period of their relationship, Bruce bought Rebecca a lot of expensive gifts. At the time, the police learned that she told her friends she wanted to marry Bruce for his money, have a child with him, and then collect child support. Rebecca had even used his credit card without his knowledge for cosmetic surgery.
The couple got married in a civil ceremony in October 1996, after which Bruce bought a home in Whittier. However, Rebecca lived there while Bruce lived with his parents until their wedding ceremony in January 1997. At the time, she was in sexual relationships with other men and would ask Bruce to call before visiting. The police also learned that, at one point, Rebecca asked her sister if she could find someone to kill Bruce and make it look like an accident.
A few months into the marriage, Bruce moved back in with his parents, and Rebecca began living with her cousin, Alvaro Quezada, in Whittier. Witnesses reported seeing them “very affectionate towards one another,” adding that they were “always hugging and kissing.” In April 1997, Rebecca presented Bruce with a draft separation agreement. According to his parents, he was considering divorce, but by July 1997, he changed his mind and wanted it to work, which led to the dinner on July 26 that year.
Phone records later showed that Rebecca called Alvaro or his father, Arturo, several times from the restaurant. After dinner, they headed to Arturo’s house. Then, as per records, Rebecca called Alvaro a few times around 1 am on the fateful morning, and cell tower information placed him around the crime scene 10 minutes before the slaying. The authorities believed that Rebecca and Alvaro, along with his brother, Jose Quezada, were involved in the murder.
The motive appeared to be money; Bruce had close to $1 million in life insurance policies at the time of his death. The police believed Rebecca wanted to get a hold of that in addition to his salary and retirement account. At the time, the authorities felt that Jose was the shooter while Alvaro was the getaway driver. In the end, the police arrested all three for the crime.
Where Are Rebecca Cleland, Alvaro Quezada and Jose Quezada Today?
In June 2000, Rebecca Cleland, Alvaro Quezada, and Jose Quezada were convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, receiving life sentences without the possibility of parole. However, in May 2003, Rebecca and Jose’s convictions were overturned. More than three years later, Rebecca was found guilty of the same charges, and in January 2007, then 37, she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
As for Jose, his second trial ended in a mistrial, but he was convicted in a third trial, eventually receiving the same sentence as Alvaro and Rebecca. Prison records indicate that he remains incarcerated at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, California. His brother, Alvaro, is serving his sentence at Folsom State Prison in Represa, California. Finally, Rebecca is imprisoned at the California Institution for Women in Corona, San Bernardino County.
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