A sheriff's dive team will search Wednesday for the body of a woman who was dumped in 1981 off Rancho Palos Verdes.
Michael Lubahn Clark, 59, agreed Tuesday hours before he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison to lead the dive team to the place where he dumped his wife's body.
Clark 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 has not been found.
During the sentencing hearing, Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said Clark has agreed to try Wednesday to lead a sheriff's team of about 50 divers to the site where he said the woman's body was dumped off the coast of Rancho Palos Verdes near Point Vicente.
"Whether we can do it or not, I don't know," Lewin said of finding the woman's remains.
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.
Clark had maintained that he was not responsible for his wife's disappearance, but spoke with Lewin and sheriff's detectives in the hours just before he was sentenced.
According to Lewin, Clark told investigators during the morning interview that he had pushed his wife and that she hit her head on an end table in the couple's living room, killing her instantly.
Before undergoing a polygraph examination, Clark told investigators that he panicked, put his wife's body in the garage behind some carpet, then put the body in his vehicle, drove to the Point Vicente area and paddled out to sea later that night to dispose of her body beyond the kelp beds, according to the prosecutor.
But when he was confronted further after undergoing a polygraph examination, Clark said he punched the woman in the head once, Lewin said.
Lewin said he didn't question what Clark did with his wife's body following her death, but implored the defendant to give authorities an accurate account of how she died.
"I don't know if we're ever going to know what happened," Lewin said.
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 the prosecutor, who handled the case with colleague Jennifer Turk.
Clark told investigators that his wife had told him that she wanted to go with someone else to a wedding and that she tried to reassure him that he would find someone else, Lewin said during the hearing.
Torrance police reopened the cold case and eventually arrested the house painter in April 2011 at his Huntington Beach townhome.
The couple—who were graduates of North High School in Torrance—were the parents of two children and had been married about 10 years when she disappeared.
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.
Clark did not provide any details in court despite repeated pleas from Lewin to "tell us the truth" and "do what this family deserves."
Clark's attorney, Kevin Donahue, objected to the prosecutor's request for his client to explain in court about what had happened to his wife. Clark sent letters to family members following his last hearing because he decided he wanted to tell them what had happened, the defense lawyer said.
In urging Torrance Superior Court Judge Eric C. Taylor to impose the maximum 15-years-to-life prison term rather than probation, Lewin said it was "finally time for him to pay for what he's done."
The judge agreed that probation was "inappropriate" and that Clark had given inconsistent versions of what happened and "caused unimaginable pain" to family and friends.