A former Torrance resident whose wife vanished more than 30 years ago was sentenced today to 15 years to life in prison and agreed to lead a sheriff's dive team to the site where he dumped the woman's body in 1981.
Michael Lubahn Clark, 59, was convicted in October of second-degree murder for the slaying of his high school sweetheart, Carol Jeanne Lubahn. The 26-year-old woman was last seen alive March 31, 1981, and her body was never found.
Torrance police reopened the cold case and eventually arrested the house painter in April 2011 at his Huntington Beach town house.
The couple - graduates of North High School in Torrance - were the parents of two children and had been married about 10 years when she disappeared.
Clark's wife had urged him to sell their home in the 17600 block of Cranbrook Avenue, and he feared she was going to divorce him if he signed the papers, according to Deputy District Attorney John Lewin.
Details of Clark's account of when he had last seen his wife changed in numerous interviews with police over the years, according to the prosecutor.
According to Lewin, Clark initially said he had pushed his wife and she hit her head on a table in the couple's living room, killing her instantly. But when he was confronted further, Clark said he punched the woman in the head, Lewin said.
"I don't know if we're ever going to know what happened," Lewin said.
Clark later divorced his wife in absentia and wed another woman, according to the prosecutor. That marriage ended in divorce, he said.
During the sentencing hearing, Lewin said Clark has now agreed to try to lead a sheriff's dive team to the site where the woman's body was dumped off the coast of San Pedro, near Point Vicente. That search is expected to take place Wednesday, he said.
"Whether we can do it or not, I don't know," Lewin said.
Clark said nothing during the sentencing hearing.
Lewin said Clark continued to refuse to take responsibility for the woman's death, and was slow to provide any information, causing the woman's family further pain.
"Instead of just ripping the Band-Aid off, it comes off in millimeters," he said.
The prosecutor said Clark had "30 years of freedom that he shouldn't have had," and noted that he for years led his children to believe their mother had abandoned them.