A Southern California man previously convicted of spousal abuse has been arrested and charged with hiring hit men to murder his wife so he could avoid a costly divorce.
Magdi Girgis, a 60-year-old respiratory therapist from Westminster, was arrested Friday and charged with three felonies in connection to the Sept. 2004 death of 55-year-old Ariest Girgis, according to the Orange County District Attorney.
Girgis testified in a domestic violence hearing against her husband days before she was killed. On the day of the murder, two intruders allegedly entered Girgis' home, slit her throat and fatally stabbed her. She was home alone with her 17-year-old son Ryan, whom the intruders bound, gagged and forced into a closet. After several minutes, Ryan heard a car drive away from the house, broke free of his ties and called the police, according to the DA.
The couple’s sons, Ryan and Richard, said they were relieved that the case was finally solved, but were reeling from their father's guilt. “I share good memories with (my father) in early childhood. (But) all along, I knew he had something to do with it,” Ryan said to CBS.
"(Our mom) was a sweet woman who didn’t deserve any of this at all," Richard said. “We’re happy the case did get solved, but it’s sad because our dad had something to do with it."
Her husband is accused of planning the murder because he wanted to avoid the cost of a divorce and to avoid a felony domestic violence conviction that would revoke his medical license. "He wanted to keep all his money to himself," said Sonia Balleste, a senior deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, said to the Orange County Register.
Magdi Girgis was considered a person of interest since the beginning of the investigation but it wasn't until Friday, more than eight years after his wife's death, that he was taken into custody, the Register reports. In the interim, he was sentenced in 2005 to a year in jail and five years of probation for a domestic violence charge.
Additional suspects have been identified and arrests are imminent, the DA says. If convicted, Girgis faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. He is also eligible for the death penalty.
A $50,000 reward is being offered by the California Governor’s office, plus an additional $5,000 pledged by The Carol Sund/Carrington Foundation, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of additional suspects in this case.
Anyone with additional information related to this incident is asked to contact WPD at 714-898-3315, Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at 714-347-8492, or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS or online at www.occrimestoppers.org.