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Woman Convicted of Forcing Son’s Girlfriend Off Cliff

March 3, 1992

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A woman was convicted of murdering her son’s girlfriend by forcing her off a 390-foot cliff to collect on a $35,000 life insurance policy.

Virginia Rearden, 55, was found guilty Monday of murder for financial gain and faces a sentence of life without parole. She was also convicted of insurance fraud and other offenses.

Prosecutors said Rearden and then-husband Billie Joe McGinnis plotted to kill Deana Hubbard Wild, 20, who lived with them in Chula Vista, by drugging her and pushing her off a cliff. McGinnis died of AIDS while in jail awaiting trial.

In 1987, Rearden paid for an insurance policy covering Wild. One day later, Wild plummeted from a Big Sur overlook while on a sightseeing trip with Rearden and McGinnis.

The death was initially ruled an accident. But Wild’s mother hired a detective who uncovered evidence that led to murder charges.

The trial was moved outdoors for two days so jurors could look at the scene of Wild’s fall, some 450 miles north of San Diego.

Rearden’s son, James Coates, also was a beneficiary of the policy but was in prison for violating terms of his parole at the time of Wild’s death and said he didn’t know about the policy. He wasn’t charged.

None of the insurance money went to Rearden or her husband.