SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A caregiver accused of killing an 89-year-old Rancho Bernardo man and draining his bank accounts of more than $500,000 pleaded not guilty Friday to murder charges that could lead to the death penalty.
Denise Michelle Goodwin, 44, is charged with murder and a special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain in the death of Gerald Eugene Rabourn, who disappeared last October. His body has not been found and there is no evidence he is alive, authorities said.
At Goodwin's arraignment Friday, Judge David Szumowski ordered Goodwin held without bail. A status conference was set for Aug. 19.
Deputy District Attorney Bill Mitchell said Goodwin was hired through a senior care service to care for Rabourn's 91-year-old wife, Carolyn, who died of cancer last Sept. 29.
Gerald Rabourn trusted Goodwin with all of his assets, and within days of his wife's death, the defendant began converting his assets to her own personal use, prosecutors allege.
Goodwin dissuaded family members from contacting police by giving them inconsistent reports regarding the victim's whereabouts and feigned contact with him, according to authorities.
Police said there was an abrupt end to Gerald Rabourn's family contacts, cell phone use and financial activity after Oct. 21.
After that date, his signature on a document to sell the family home and title documents to transfer his car were forged, authorities said. Following an investigation, a missing persons report was filed in February.
Goodwin was arrested on theft-related charges July 12 as she boarded a plane for a European vacation, said San Diego police Capt. Jim Collins.
In addition to murder, the defendant is charged with elder abuse, embezzlement by a trustee, grand theft, forgery and auto theft.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis will decide after the preliminary hearing whether Goodwin will face the death penalty or life in prison if she's convicted.
Goodwin's 18-year-old son, Michael, is charged with possession of a stolen car. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted.