Wife: Murder suspect Cua acted strangely

The wife of a 53-year-old man accused of bludgeoning an elderly Millbrae couple to death testified against her husband, saying in a preliminary hearing Tuesday that shortly after the incident, she noticed cuts and swelling on his hand.

Joseph Cua, who lived in both Burlingame and Hemet in Riverside County, is accused of murdering Fernand Wagner, 78, and his wife, Suzanne, 68, in their Lomita Avenue home in Millbrae on June 14, 2006. Cua was employed by the Wagners as a property manager and was arrested in Oxnard in Ventura County five days after the murder.

Cua’s wife, Joy, took the stand Tuesday, recounting her husband’s behavior in the days after the incident. The night of the murder, she said, Cua drove from Burlingame toward Hemet, but made a side trip to sleep in a boat he owned in Oxnard. It was there that he told his wife over the phone that the Wagners “were shot to death” in a random act of violence.

When he finally arrived in Hemet, she said she became suspicious when his hand swelled. She said he also complained of pain in his shin. He refused to see a doctor, and his reasons for his injuries changed from falling on inline skates to stapling his finger to hurting himself with a sander, she said.

While testifying, Joy Cua avoided looking at her husband as she calmly spoke. She said she was kept in the dark during their marriage and suspected that he bugged her Hemet home and phone line. She was not allowed to ask him questions about money or his job.

“That was a line not to be crossed,” she said.

Millbrae police officer Robert Raw, who spotted the bodies through a side window after Suzanne Wagner was reported missing, also testified Tuesday.

“There appeared to be heavy traumato [Suzanne Wagner’s] head,” he recalled. “The male was fully clothed. I saw a large amount of trauma to his head as well.”

The hearing could conclude today, at which time a judge will decide whether prosecutors have enough evidence to take Cua to trial. Cua is in custody on $3 million bail.

About 10 family members and friends of the victims attended Tuesday’s hearing, including Tony Barbeau, of Redwood City, whose father was a neighbor of and best friends with Fernand Wagner.

bfoley@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The admissions process at the academically competitive Lowell High School is set to change this year due to coronavirus restritions. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Lowell’s selective admissions process put on hold this year — and more changes may be in the works

School board votes unanimously to use normal student assignment lottery for competitive school

Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, said Tuesday that student would not be back in school before the end of this calendar year. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Superintendent: City schools will not reopen before the end of the year

San Francisco public schools won’t reopen to students for the rest of… Continue reading

San Francisco has failed to reduce traffic deaths enough to meet its Vision Zero goal. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco not on track to meet Vision Zero goals by 2024

Hamstrung by state laws, dwindling budget and limited resources, SFMTA tries to chart path forward

San Francisco will allow bars selling drinks, and not food, to begin serving customers outdoors under health guidelines going into effect next month. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF becomes first Bay Area County to move to least restrictive COVID-19 category

Change to ‘yellow’ will allow more indoor dining and fitness, reopening non-essential offices

City officials want to install more red light cameras but the process is costly and time consuming. (Shutterstock)
Transit officials push for more red light cameras

SFMTA says ‘capital crunch’ and dragging timelines make expanding the program cumbersome

Most Read