The murder of Pegye Bechler by her husband, Eric Bechler, is detailed on Murder In Newport Beach on Investigation Discovery.
On July 6, 1997, Pegye and Eric opted to go to Newport Beach in California for their fifth wedding anniversary. The trip was supposed to be an adventure and a shot at rekindling their romance, but tragedy struck several hours into the trip when Eric was found clinging to a waterboard, screaming for help.
Eric told authorities that his 38-year-old wife, who was deemed to be an expert swimmer, was driving the speedboat when a wave pushed her into the ocean. Her body was never recovered, and she was presumed drowned.
Pegye’s death was ruled a tragic accident until 1999 when Eric’s new girlfriend, Tina New, told investigators that he admitted to killing her and pushing her body overboard to cash in on a $2 million life insurance policy.
Authorities captured his confession on tape by strapping a secret recording device underneath New’s clothing. The couple were at a restaurant when Eric told her that he waited until Pegye was asleep to bludgeon her to death with a dumbbell.
He then wrapped the dumbbells around her body, stuffed her in trash bags and pushed into the ocean.
Eric was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He was held in the county jail without bond.
During the trial, Eric stated that he loved his wife, and he didn’t kill her. He said he only confessed to doing so because he wanted to fulfill his girlfriend’s fantasy. He also claimed to be high on ecstasy pills at the time of his confession, and he wasn’t thinking clearly.
On February 1, 2001, a jury found Eric guilty of murdering Pegye. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In 2003, Eric requested a new trial, but it was denied.
Murder In Newport Beach airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.