In July 2006, Dr. Esfandiar “Steve” Kadivar’s sudden death at his ranch in Lancaster, California, shocked friends and family alike. However, the police initially had just a few leads to follow up on. But the following year, another murder led to a connection with Steve’s case, revealing not one but two murder-for-hire plots. At the center of it was Nicolas Cordoba, who Steve hired as the ranch hand on his property. This story is one of two cases highlighted on Investigation Discovery’s ‘Deadly Sins: No Forgiveness: Greed Is (Not) Good.’ So, let’s find out more about what happened then, shall we?
Who is Nicolas Cordoba?
Dr. Esfandiar “Steve” Kadivar hired Nicolas Olvera Cordoba about six to seven years before the incident. He helped take care of Steve’s ranch in Lancaster, California, where they grew pistachios and alfalfa in addition to raising cattle. Sometime after 11 pm on July 5, 2006, Nicolas came by the ranch to find 64-year-old Steve dead; he was riddled with gunshot wounds and was shot as he fed cattle. Nicolas called 911 right away.
The authorities noted that Steve was shot with a rifle and a handgun. A safe with money, Iranian gold coins, and jewelry was missing from the property. As per the show, Nicolas didn’t come to work that morning and denied having anything to do with the murder. The investigation didn’t get very far after that, leaving Steve’s family disappointed. Then, Steve’s wife leased the ranch to Nicolas in December 2006.
Nicolas brought in Efrain Martines as a business partner, and the two planned to split the profits. However, in April 2007, Efrain’s dead body was found in the bed of his pickup truck a few miles from the ranch. He had been shot several times with an assault rifle. As the investigation continued, the police caught a break with Marcos García being arrested. As per the show, he was picked up on an immigration charge but confessed to shooting Efrain. From here, the story developed quickly.
While working for Steve, Nicolas noticed that he had a safe full of valuables, and at one point, let greed get the better of him. Nicolas then hired Antonio Martínez and Arturo Rosales Verdín to kill Steve and promised to pay them later. So, on July 5, 2006, Antonio and Arturo shot Steve to death and stole the safe. The police later found an Iranian coin and some of Steve’s missing guns in Antonio’s home. The safe was found buried on the property where Antonio’s wife lived.
Then, Nicolas and Efrain began to have disagreements leading the former to devise yet another murder-for-hire plan. This time, Nicolas offered Marcos $5000 to kill Efrain. Marcos initially said no but eventually agreed. After Marcos shot Efrain on April 28, 2007, Antonio and Arturo helped move his body and vehicle. Ultimately, Marcos cooperated with the police and made recordings of his conversations with the other three.
Where is Nicolas Cordoba Today?
The authorities later learned that Nicolas Cordoba talked to a friend in 2005 about wanting help to kill Steve, but the friend didn’t take him seriously at the time. Furthermore, before Efrain’s death, Nicolas told the police that Efrain had murdered Steve. In the end, Nicolas was found guilty of Efrain’s murder, with the jurors finding true the special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and murder for financial gain.
However, the jurors remained deadlocked regarding Nicolas’ involvement with Steve’s murder. In January 2015, then 63-years-old, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole with an additional one-year term. Arturo and Antonio also received life sentences for their part in the crimes, with Marcos being handed down 28 years to life. Prison records indicate that Nicolas remains incarcerated at the California State Prison in Vacaville, Solano County.
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