A transient who, with her boyfriend, is suspected of killing a Huntington Beach woman, led police Saturday to the shallow grave of a Redlands woman--the second victim of what Redlands Police Chief Robert Brickley called "premeditated, cold, calculated" killings that may be part of a series.
Cynthia Lynn Coffman, 24, took police to a neglected vineyard in rural Fontana where the body of 20-year-old Corinna D. Novis was found bound and gagged and buried face down.
Brickley said Coffman and James Gregory Marlow, 30, both of whom are in custody, had driven through southern Orange County a week ago "scouting" for victims, and were about to travel to Phoenix, where they had already selected a victim, a pregnant woman.
Cooperating With Police
They are suspects in the slaying of 19-year-old Lynel Murray of Huntington Beach, whose strangled body was discovered in a Huntington Beach motel Thursday afternoon.
Marlow and Coffman are cooperating with police, but so far they have shown "no remorse" for their alleged involvement, Brickley said. They also told his investigators about the killing of a man in Kentucky, Brickley said, but he would not elaborate, saying that Kentucky authorities may not even know about that slaying.
Drugs apparently were involved in the Kentucky case, Brickley said, but not in the Redlands slaying.
He said there are many similarities between the Huntington Beach and Redlands cases. In both cases, he said, the motive was primarily robbery and secondarily "sexual gratification." He would not say, however, whether the victims had been sexually molested.
Arrested Without Resistance
"I don't want to speculate" about how many murders the couple may have committed, Brickley said. "There may be more. It would behoove every law enforcement agency where they've been to check their missing persons (and) their Jane Does."
Marlow and Coffman were arrested without resistance Friday afternoon at Big Bear City in the San Bernardino Mountains. Police identified Marlow as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang. He has tattoos over much of his body, including a swastika on his shoulder.
Redlands investigators said the couple had registered at a lodge in Big Bear Lake using Murray's credit card. In the nearby Twin Peaks area, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies also found the white sports car that belonged to Novis, who had been missing since her abduction Nov. 7.
Redlands police on Thursday night also arrested another couple, Richard Drinkhouse, 28, and Veronica Kay Coppers, 27, as suspected accessories in the murder, kidnaping and robbery of Novis. "They knew what was going on before and after and did nothing to report it," said Redlands Police Sgt. Walter S. Kadyk.
All of the suspects are being held on suspicion of both murders, three in the Redlands City Jail and Coppers in San Bernardino County Jail.
Brickley said Coppers is Marlow's sister.
Brickley announced the discovery of Novis' body at a press conference in Redlands City Hall. Two of Novis' colleagues in the insurance office where she worked and two of her friends were present, and they broke into loud sobs and huddled together, crying, when the announcement was made.
Couple Ask for Ride
Describing Novis' abduction, Brickley said she had been shopping at the Redlands Mall shopping center and was going to her car in the parking lot, intending to drive to a beauty salon for a manicure.
Brickley said Marlow and Coffman asked Novis for a ride, and she consented.
"She was a very nice, caring lady, very trusting," Brickley said. "It was a random kidnaping. They selected a young woman in front of the mall. They did not know this woman. It could have been anybody."
Brickley said that Coppers worked in one of the mall's restaurants.
Once inside the car, one of the couple pulled a gun, he said. They drove to several places, among them Novis' apartment where they stole several items, including a telephone answering machine, Brickley said.
Later that night, they drove Novis to the Fontana vineyard, where she was killed, he said, apparently by strangulation.
Car Found Friday
Police said the couple drove Novis' car into the San Bernardino Mountains later and abandoned it in the parking lot at Santa's Village, where it was found Friday. Investigators found sleeping bags and other personal effects near the car.
Investigators said the couple hitchhiked toward Big Bear Lake, in one instance accepting a ride with an unidentified couple and their three children.
Police said they checked into the Bavarian Lodge in Big Bear Lake on Thursday morning using Murray's credit card.
Ina Aranguren, office manager of the lodge, said she sensed immediately there was something odd about the couple.
"They were very different. Most of our people checking in have come to the mountains for vacation, and they are dressed for that."