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Apr 20th
Home Sections MiscellaNEWS Fil-Am Navy Man and Buddy Face 50 Years-to-Life Sentence for Killing of Grandaunt
Fil-Am Navy Man and Buddy Face 50 Years-to-Life Sentence for Killing of Grandaunt PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 20 February 2011 15:53



Journal Group Link International)


Victim Was Called the “Filipino Black Widow” Suspected of Ordering the Killing of Her Two Previous Caucasian Husbands


C HICAGO (jGLi) – A Filipino-American U.S. Navy enlisted man and his buddy in the Navy were convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder by a jury Thursday (Feb. 17) for the killing of a Filipina hairdresser twice widowed.


Deputy District Attorney John Lewin of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office told this reporter over the phone Eric Santander De la Cruz, 31, a native of the Philippines and Fernando Romero, 27, will likely be sentenced from 50 and 51 years to life in prison.


“Because one of them pulled the trigger, an additional one year will be added to the sentence,” Lewin explained.


De la Cruz and Romero were convicted of killing De la Cruz’s grandaunt, Sonia Rios Risken on April 26, 2007, in her home in 252nd Street, Lomita, California, a suburb south of Los Angeles, based on “complicated circumstantial evidence that involve cell phone, bank records and e-mails although the gun was missing from her home.”


Sonia Rios Risken, 60, was earlier suspected of masterminding the death of her first husband, Earl John Bourdeau, in 1987, following the death of her second husband, Law “Larry Risken” in April 2006, prompting media outlets to dub her as “Lomita Black Widow.”


Bourdeau, a retired Marine, was found shot to death inside Sonia Rios Risken’s family home in Cavite in the Philippines while she did not join him in the trip. He had planned to divorce her.


Nineteen years later in 2006, Sonia Rios Risken’s second hand, Larry Risken, was also shot in the head during a visit to his wife’s family in Cavite and she also did not join the trip either. Larry also wanted to divorce Sonia. His body was immediately cremated.


American Embassy in Manila Reveals Involvement of Widow in Killing of Second Husband


D uring the trial of De la Cruz and Romero, it was disclosed that Sonia was the likely killer of Risken. The U.S. Embassy in Manila wrote Risken’s father, Law Risken, on March 10, 2009, saying that the Philippine police investigators suspected Sonia Risken was behind his son’s killing. Police did not pursue the case following her death.


Prosecutors believed greed motivated De la Cruz, of Carson, and Romero, of Highland, both in California, for the killing of Sonia.

De la Cruz testified during the trial that Sonia, whom he called “Grandma,” had raised him and was expecting to inherit her money and property.


“Mr. De la Cruz just wanted the money that he thought was coming to him, and he didn’t want to wait,” Lewin said.


Things unraveled when De la Cruz set up a ruse pretending to be Bordeau’s son, John, by creating an e-mail account under John’s name in 2007. De la Cruz e-mailed the sister of Sonia’s deceased second husband, saying he could retrieve her brother’s remains in the Philippines for $35,000.


In a subsequent e-mail, De la Cruz also e-mailed to her, offering to kill Sonia Rios Risken also for pay, according to prosecutors.


Saying that he has a friend, who can kill Sonia Rios Risken, De la Cruz said in his e-mail, all he needed was her permission for his friend to kill Sonia “first and then you can pay him later.”


Both De la Cruz and Romero were on duty at the time of the killing at the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and De la Cruz asked Romero to be “trigger man” because he could not pull the trigger himself.


When Romero failed to kill Sonia at her beauty shop a week before her death at his first try, De la Cruz went ashore from the aircraft carrier and went to Lomita to help Romero finish the job.


Sonia let her grandnephew in her house with Romero because she trusted him.


“Fernando Romero … has to be the one to pull the trigger,” Lewin said. “She was executed …. Never saw it coming.”


Investigators traced the e-mails to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and ports where De la Cruz was serving. The bank account where the money was to be sent is under the name of Maria Perez, De la Cruz’s girlfriend, who is now his wife.


F ernando Romero and De la Cruz’s calling cards and cell phone records placed them together in Lomita at the time of the shooting and Romero’s phone number was reflected in Sonia’s caller ID before the beauty shop shooting.


A few days after her death, De la Cruz went to Sonia’s attorney, asking if he was listed in her will.


Donald Levinson, De la Cruz’s defense attorney, and Ludlow Creary, Romero’s defense lawyer, however, call the evidence against their clients “too weak to convict the men of murder,” saying, probers found no physical evidence, gun, fingerprints or DNA to directly tie the men to the crime.


The defense lawyers said that after Torrance Superior Court under Judge James Brandlin sentences their clients on March 16, they are going to mount an appeal. # # #


Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (


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