Eric Bechler beat his 38-year-old wife Pegye Bechler to death in July 1997 at a beach in Southern California. Her body was later thrown into the sea.
According to investigators, Bechler had a lot to gain from the murder. He stood to get his hands on a $2 million life insurance policy.
While it was initially difficult to find out who had killed Pegye Bechler as investigators were unable to get hold of any solid proof, a confession by Eric's girlfriend, Tina, helped authorities incriminate him.
He was sentenced to life-imprisonment without any possibility of parole. He is currently serving his sentence at the Avenal State Prison. Eric was found guilty of first-degree murder for financial gain.
The chilling story will be covered in the latest episode of Oxygen's true-crime series Dateline: Secrets Uncovered, scheduled to air on February 1.
Here's a short synopsis of the episode:
"A California couple's romantic getaway on a boat turns tragic when the young wife and mother is lost at sea; the case goes cold for years until a model with a checkered past goes undercover to find the truth."
Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of murder. Discretion is advised.
Why did Eric Bechler kill his wife? Details about the case explored
A marriage anniversary that left everyone shocked
After completing her schooling from New Mexico, Pegye left for California, where she met Eric at a volleyball game. The two of them got married a year later.
The couple decided to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary and Pegye's 38th birthday at a beach in California. However, the celebration did not end well as Pegye never returned from the trip.
According to Eric's version of the story, Pegye was on a speedboat when a rogue wave toppled them into the water. He claimed that while he was able to come out of the water, Pegye couldn't.
Story did not convince the investigators
However trustworthy the story was, the investigators did not buy it. They were not convinced by Bechler's version of the incident, but did not have solid evidence to implicate the husband.
The story was even more unbelievable given that despite being diagnosed with scoliosis at a very young age, Pegye was an accomplished swimmer.
Investigators did not stop their search for the truth, and decided to question Bechler's then-girlfriend, Tina, who they thought would know something.
Tina's confession led the police to the truth
When questioned, Tina told the police everything she knew. She confessed that Eric had revealed to her how he had planned to buy the boat and take Pegye away from the shore in order to kill her.
Bechler was eventually arrested and convicted of first-degree murder. At the time, he had said:
“The accident was a horrible tragedy that has befallen both of our families. As much as [his in-laws] are hurting, my family’s also hurting because I didn’t commit this crime. I love my wife terribly. And I miss her. And I . . . there’s nothing else I can say.”
He is currently serving his sentence at the Avenal State Prison in Kings County, California.