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Widow of Man Accused of Murder Finds Love at 50th High School Reunion: 'I Just Hit the Jackpot' (Exclusive)

Becky Brown, who sought justice and won a lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department, tells PEOPLE that "it's never too late to have a great life"

<p>Courtesy of Becky and Mike Bashforth</p> Becky and Mike Bashforth at their San Diego wedding in May 2023

Courtesy of Becky and Mike Bashforth

Becky and Mike Bashforth at their San Diego wedding in May 2023

Becky Brown had given up on love after her husband killed himself when police accused him of murder in a high-profile cold case.

Brown’s legal case against the San Diego Police Department, where her husband Kevin had been employed as a forensic criminologist, was intensive but eventually earned her a large settlement from the city.

However, winning the case did not cure her loneliness. It only intensified it. That’s when luck and fate stepped in. To fill the time, she volunteered in 2022 to help with her 50th reunion at Bonita Vista High School.

She wondered if maybe a certain old boyfriend might be attending. That certain old boyfriend, Mike Bashforth, had been divorced for many years when he decided to go to the reunion and potentially reconnect with Brown.

<p>Courtesy of Becky and Mike Bashforth</p> Becky and Mike Bashforth at a formal dance in 1971

Courtesy of Becky and Mike Bashforth

Becky and Mike Bashforth at a formal dance in 1971

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At the reunion, sparks flew, and the two quickly became a couple. They eventually married, despite initial resistance from her family and some friends.

Mike tells PEOPLE that he only knew one thing: “I didn’t want to let her get away again."

On Oct. 14, less than two months after their meet-up at the reunion, Mike proposed. In May 2023, they were married.

“He said he wanted us to be together forever, and I said yes over and over,” Becky says. “We are so lucky, but we know that the clock is ticking. Who knows if we have 2 or 22 years left, but we want to share the journey together.”

<p>Courtesy of Becky and Mike Bashforth</p> Becky and Mike Bashforth's wedding, officiated by former Bonita Vista classmate Linda Grasser Sakane

Courtesy of Becky and Mike Bashforth

Becky and Mike Bashforth's wedding, officiated by former Bonita Vista classmate Linda Grasser Sakane

Some people were saying she should slow down.

“At our age? Are you kidding?” she says laughing, “I almost died of high blood pressure. I think I’ve cried and had too many lonely nights these last years. When love drops into your life, there’s no way I’m going to walk away from it.”

Although she did just that when she and Mike first got together, her family had just moved from Minnesota to San Diego when she was a sophomore. She began dating Mike, a high school athlete with a reputation for being rowdy.

They both worked at the local Bob’s Big Boy, attended the same Catholic church, and their parents knew each other.

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“I knew he had a good heart. He was compassionate, a hard worker and he was fun,” Becky says. “I knew all these things. But I also knew he partied too much for me back then.”

The two broke up, and she dated a classmate who became her first husband. They later divorced, and she married again, only to face another divorce.

Do you have a sweet story the world needs to know? Send the details to love@people.com for a chance to be featured in Real-Life Love, People.com's series dedicated to sharing extraordinary connections and heartfelt gestures.

But her marriage to quiet Kevin Brown was a good one, until he was accused of killing a 14-year-old girl in a high-profile case years before. The police badgered him, Becky says, which led him to take his life.

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In her quest to clear his name, she told her story to major news outlets all over the country, and she became a media warrior to get justice.

After high school graduation, Mike joined the Air Force and graduated from college. He married, had a son, got divorced, had a career, retired and moved to Florida to live on a boat, all the while unaware of the turmoil that had consumed his former high school crush.

"I wasn't truly happy because I didn't have a partner in crime," he says.

<p>Courtesy of Becky and Mike Bashforth</p> Mike and Becky Bashforth now spend their time traveling

Courtesy of Becky and Mike Bashforth

Mike and Becky Bashforth now spend their time traveling

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On a whim, he decided to go to his 50th high school reunion in the hopes of seeing his vivacious former girlfriend.

Becky, who says she was “emotionally unavailable” in the years after her husband’s death, had been venturing back into the dating world with few real connections, leading her to think about Mike.

“Whenever I saw him at our reunions, I knew this guy was so fun and too bad we couldn’t work it out,” Becky says. “Our hearts were happy together. When we looked at each other this time, we knew.”

She also realized he had changed. He now shared her love of theater, PBS mysteries and travel. He told her she wasn’t dating a 17-year-old now. She was with a grown man.

“So you still have this fun, gorgeous package who is now well-rounded, and I just hit the jackpot,” Becky says.

<p>courtesy Becky and Mike Bashforth</p> Mike and Becky Bashforth at a friend's home in France

courtesy Becky and Mike Bashforth

Mike and Becky Bashforth at a friend's home in France

She hopes people don’t let age keep them from opening doors in their lives. When asked why they wanted to get married at their age, she laughed.

“We wanted to celebrate our love. We wanted to celebrate people doing what they want to do in life, no matter what your age,” Becky says. “I went back to school to be a teacher at 49. At 69, I got married to someone who really, really gets me, and I get them. It’s never too late to have a great life.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.

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