Calif. man charged in 1989 killing of ex’s child

Liz De La Torre

From The Associated Press

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A San Diego attorney was charged with murder Thursday for allegedly killing his girlfriend’s daughter 20 years ago so the mother could take custody of her granddaughters.

Eric Fagan, who has written a book about Internet dating, was charged with premeditated murder and attempted murder a day after being arrested at his home in the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista.

Fagan, who’s being held on $2 million bail, was scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

The San Bernardino County district attorney’s office said Fagan, 74, fatally shot Cathy Lynn Paternoster, then 32, and wounded her boyfriend Carl Fuerst, then 41, on an October evening in 1989. They said he waited outside the couple’s Spring Valley Lake home and fired at the victims after they arrived home and got out of their van.

Authorities alleged that Fagan killed Paternoster so her mother, Betty Paternoster, could obtain custody of her granddaughters.

Fagan was named a person of interest in the 1989 killing, but detectives couldn’t gather enough evidence to charge anyone with the crime.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Frank Montanez said a cold case team picked up the case in April 2008, hoping they could build on the previous criminal investigation.

He said recent interviews provided circumstantial evidence that implicated Fagan.

“It wasn’t that we found the smoking gun or a DNA hit or anything like that,” Montanez said. “We served some search warrants and interviewed people. Over time relationships change and sometimes people are willing to come forward with information that helps our case.”

Montanez said revealing further details could jeopardize the case.

Fagan’s law office in San Diego declined to comment on the case.

Fagan, a civil attorney, is the author of “Cast Your Net: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Your Soulmate on the Internet.”