Let me tell you about Cynthia Cdebaca, or “Ghetto Grandma” as she was jokingly referred to. This jovial, charismatic elderly woman is one you might, at the very least, find entertaining. She spots a short haircut, smokes like a chimney, and “tells it like it is.” She’s slow-moving, but she’s got a short temper and a self-righteous attitude.
Geoward Eustaquio, a real estate agent and kids’ rugby coach, was married to Cdebaca’s daughter, Laura. The couple lived in a beautiful home in Fallbrook, California, an upscale neighborhood in Northern San Diego County, with their two children, his son from a previous relationship, and Cdebaca, who resided in the guest house.
Like any family, there were ups and downs. Tension arose between Cdebaca and her son-in-law over her smoking and his disciplinary approach to parenting. She would criticize his approach, calling it “mean,” and he would spray her with the garden hose if he caught her smoking.
Cdebaca decided to take her rage out at a shooting range. She had recently purchased a .38 caliber 5 shot revolver. And she wanted to test it out. Who doesn’t find the shooting range a little cathartic?
But, just three weeks later, Cdebaca would find out that firing bullets into a paper target isn’t quite as therapeutic as shooting the real thing.
On the morning of February 11, 2014, at about 8:00 am, Cdebaca was dressing for the day. It was her 63rd birthday. She had planned to celebrate accordingly. She was all set for a great day when Eustaquio criticized her outfit choice, telling her that she looked “ghetto.”
Well, after that little quip, Cdebaca decided that she had had enough.
So, she went to her purse, grabbed her newly purchased revolver, returned, and emptied the clip into her unsuspecting son-in-law.
Unsatisfied, Cdebaca returned to her car to retrieve more bullets, while Eustaquio crawled into his kitchen and locked the door behind him. But the slow-moving grandma eventually returned, broke into the house, and once again emptied her clip into her son-in-law.
Still not satisfied, Cdebaca returned to her car again, retrieved more ammo, and returned to her dying son-in-law, and emptied the clip once last time.
And then, she went out to celebrate her birthday.
According to 911 calls, the shooting lasted about 10 minutes. Gunshots can be heard on the 911 calls. Police stormed the Fallbrook residence to find a bloody trail leading to Eustaquio’s dead body. He had been shot 11 times, 7 bullets remained inside, 4 holes with entrance and exit wounds.
Police had a few suspects in mind, including Eustaquio’s eldest son, but none stuck out more than his mother-in-law.
When police finally caught up to Cdebaca, they found her at her favorite coffee shop. She had just spent the day having a big breakfast at Denny’s, followed by two hours gambling at Pechanga Casino. She had been celebrating her birthday lavishly.
Still, police brought her in for questioning. And she happily obliged.
After sitting down with detectives in an interrogation room, they inform her what’s happened.
“Something happened today at your house and unfortunately … Laura’s husband has passed away.”
Appearing confused and upset at first, Cdebaca’s demeanor changes from grieving to contempt for her recently deceased son-in-law. When asked about how she feels about him, she decided to let it all fly.
Cdebaca told detectives that Eustaquio had been abusive towards her, her grandchildren, and her daughter for years. She admitted that she “stopped him.”
“Is he dead?” Cdebaca asked detectives.
“You tell me.”
“He’s gotta be dead.”
“Do you think he’s dead?”
“I hope so.”
That’s when things had begun to come full circle for detectives. Cdebaca admitted to detectives that she had been planning Eustaquio’s murder for weeks and that she was finally pushed over the edge when he called her outfit “ghetto.”
“Is he alive?” Cdebaca asked, glee in her voice.
“No.” Detectives responded.
“Oh good, good, good, good, good, good. Oh thank you!” Cdebaca raised her arms in praise and did a little dance.
“You don’t feel bad about it?” Detectives asked.
“Would you do it again.”
Never had detectives seen such a jovial and enthusiastic admission of guilt in a murder. Except detectives weren’t the only ones hearing this startling confession.
Her family had been watching all along.
One by one, family members entered the interrogation room to say their goodbyes. Laura was devastated.
“Oh God Mom… why did you do this?”
“I wanted to.”
Her granddaughter couldn’t even make it fully inside the room.
“Oh, honey.” Cdebaca said, reaching out to her granddaughter. “Come kiss me please.”
“No. You killed my dad.”
After a lengthy, emotional trial, a jury found Cdebaca guilty of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. There, she can truly test the validity of her namesake.