CRIME

Man Accused Of Killing Girlfriend On Hike Wanted Insurance Money

02/20/2015 10:34 am ET | Updated Feb 20, 2015

Six years after a 23-year-old woman fell to her death on a popular trail in Oregon, police arrested her boyfriend on charges of murder.

Stephen Wagner Nichols, 40, was quietly arrested Feb. 2 as he arrived at San Francisco International Airport from China, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's office.

Nichols' girlfriend Rhonda Casto, 23, died after tumbling 100 feet while hiking in the Columbia River Gorge with him on March 16, 2009, according to the Oregonian.

In a indictment last April, Nichols is accused of murder, according to KPTV.

Previously, Casto's death had been considered accidental. Nichols had no idea that a grand jury was considering a case against him.

Deputies nabbed Nichols after getting a request from the Hood River County Sheriff's office in Oregon that he would be traveling through the airport, a San Mateo Sheriff spokeswoman told HuffPost in an email.

The Hood River County district attorney hasn't responded to HufPost's inquiries. The county sheriff has declined to comment.

But details are beginning to flow from other sources. Court documents, cited by the Associated Press, allege that Nichols sought to collect a $1 million life insurance policy.

The files also show that Casto and Nichols became involved in 2005 and had a daughter, who is now 6, the AP said.

MetLIfe, the insurer, turned down Nichols' bid to receive the payout. The two sides tangled in court over the money and a 2011 opinion said it was "unclear" if Nichols was involved in Casto's murder, according to another story by the Oregonian.

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