‘Married a Monster’: Citrus Heights Man Gets 15 Years to Life for Wife’s Murder

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PLACER COUNTY — A Citrus Heights man was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years to life in prison for the murder of his wife, whose skeletal remains were found by hikers in Placer County.

In the Placer County courtroom Tuesday were Trang Tran’s parents, who had traveled from Vietnam to watch 30-year-old Michael Abeyta be sentenced for their daughter’s 2017 murder.

The Placer County District Attorney says Abeyta pleaded guilty to second-degree murder back in July.

“It’s nice to have some closure for the family. Detectives worked extremely hard on this, including our patrol folks and it’s good closure for everybody,” said Placer County Sgt. Matt Hardcastle.

Tran met Abeyta at Central Florida University after she came to the U.S. from Vietnam. The district attorney reports Tran became pregnant and they soon married.

They had just moved to Citrus Heights the fall before she was killed.

However, Tran had a miscarriage, which is when the DA says their marriage “deteriorated.”

“It is beyond tragic that this young woman came to our country for an education, and fell in love and married a monster who rather than divorce her, decided to kill her and dump her body to decay in the woods,” stated Chief Assistant District Attorney Jeff Wilson.

Hikers found Tran’s skeletal remains scattered in an area along Foresthill Road.

On Jan. 27, 2018, the 22-year-old’s remains were found scattered in an area of thick underbrush just a few hundred feet north of Foresthill Road. It was later discovered she had died on Oct. 11, 2017.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 10, 2017, some passing drivers reported seeing a man trying to push a car down an embankment in the area where hikers found Tran’s remains. The Toyota Camry was later towed away and detectives eventually found it at a tow yard.

Tran’s passport was found inside.

“One of our deputies remembered a night they ended up towing a car from across where we found her,” Sgt. Hardcastle told FOX40. “We were able to track down that call, track down the person who reported it and track down where the car was eventually towed to that night.”

Chief Assistant District Attorney Wilson said during Tran’s disappearance, Abeyta showed no signs of worry or concern. Instead, while loved ones searched for her, he was “having sex, doing drugs, and partying.”

Abeyta was arrested on Feb. 1, 2018.

Pathologists could not determine Tran’s exact cause of death and to this day, investigators have no clues into why her husband killed her.

“We couldn’t isolate a motive or anything like that, no,” Hardcastle said.

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