Woman Sentenced to 20 Years to Life for Killing Wife in San Carlos Home

Tiffany Nowden, 40, killed her wife, Russina Vale, 38, in June 2014 and was on the lam for nearly 20 days before being arrested

A San Diego woman who stabbed her wife to death inside their San Carlos apartment and evaded capture for nearly 20 days was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison Friday.

Tiffany Nowden’s prison-bound fate was decided just one day before her 41st birthday, court officials confirmed. She was also ordered to pay restitution.

Nowden pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the deadly stabbing of her wife, Russina Vale, 38.

On June 5, 2014, Vale’s naked body was found inside an apartment unit at the Villa De Flores complex in the 7700 block of Mission Gorge Road.

Vale was found lifeless in her bed and, according to San Diego Police Department investigators, had suffered two stab wounds – one to her stomach and the other to her upper right arm and chest, which proved deadly.

After the grisly discovery by police, Nowden was nowhere to be found. She was dubbed a person of interest in the homicide case.

What followed were nearly 20 days of Nowden on the lam, evading authorities who wanted to question her in connection with her wife’s slaying.

U.S. Marshals officials finally tracked down Nowden in late June 2014 at a home on Market Street in San Diego. Nowden was then arrested and booked into the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry
Facility, where she has been in custody for the past year-and-a-half.

At the time of Vale’s killing, neighbors in the couple’s apartment complex said the two women lived together, but had recently been fighting and had broken up. In happier times, the women were often seen walking their dogs together.

Prosecutors later revealed the couple had gotten into a heated argument at Nowden’s place of employment, Barona Casino, shortly before Vale’s stabbing.

After that, the prosecutor said Vale sent emails to loved ones saying her relationship with Nowden was over, and that she planned to seek a divorce.

At Nowden’s pre-trial in October 2014, her aunt, Zanetta Moloi, of San Bernardino, Calif., testified that she was asked to pick up Nowden in San Diego following Vale’s murder because Nowden was in trouble.

Moloi said Nowden appeared stressed when she picked her up in San Diego. Moloi said her niece called an attorney but decided not to meet with him. Nowden took a shower at Moloi’s house and then left her aunt’s home without saying where she was going, the aunt testified.

Moloi said she didn’t learn about what had happened to Vale until several days after she saw Nowden.

At Nowden’s sentencing hearing Friday, two of her sisters spoke in court. The court also heard from one of Vale’s loved ones.

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