MIGUEL LOPEZ, son-in-law of wealthy Alicante City widow and businesswoman Maria del Carmen Martinez, has been remanded for her murder.
Wife of the late Vicente Sala, a former CAM bank president, and the mother of a son and three daughters, she was shot twice in the head at point-blank range while inside her car last December.
Outsiders at first assumed it was a contract killing carried out as Maria del Carmen collected her Porsche Cheyenne from the carwash in the family-owned Novocar dealership. Employees later found her leaning against the vehicle and pathologists calculated that she died 20 minutes after being shot.
Police decided early on that this was not the work of a hitman but an amateur who botched the execution-style killing and left bullet casings behind afterwards.
Instead they centred their investigations on Maria del Carmen’s closest relatives, aware of growing conflict over how the family’s business concerns were run.
When arrested, Miguel Lopez allegedly told police, “I was expecting this,” but has denied killing his mother-in-law.
Lopez, married to Fuensanta Sala Martinez, ran the Novocar. It was the only family company that lost money and despite €3.2 million losses in 2014 and 2015 Lopez had increased his salary from an annual €45,000 to €99,999.
This prompted his brother-in-law Vicente Sala Martinez’s decision to stop paying dividends and put family members on salaries of €3,000 a month.
Maria del Carmen backed the decision and, although opposed by her daughters, intended to make over her “golden share” to her son, giving him the deciding vote in all business decisions.