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Police Memo Details Slayings of 2 Women

November 20, 1986|RAY PEREZ and NANCY WRIDE | Times Staff Writers

Huntington Beach police have sent a Teletype memo to law-enforcement agencies in five Southern California counties detailing the circumstances of the two abductions and killings for which James Gregory Marlow and Cynthia Lynn Coffman were arrested last week.

The memo, which was issued late Tuesday to authorities in Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, also detailed Marlow and Coffman's apparent motives.

Marlow and Coffman have been charged with the Nov. 7 abduction, murder and burial of Corinna D. Novis, 20, of Redlands. They also are the prime suspects in the kidnap-murder of Lynel Murray, a 19-year-old college student from Huntington Beach who was found dead Nov. 13.

Huntington Beach Police Lt. Ed McErlain, however, would not say what was in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Times.

The memo said Miss Novis was abducted at gunpoint after Coffman and Marlow asked her to give them a ride to the University of Redlands from a shopping mall. She was driven to a location in Fontana where she sexually molested, strangled and buried in a shallow grave.

The couple, according to the memo, then drove Miss Novis' car to her apartment, where they stole several household items that they later sold in the San Bernardino area for drugs. Coffman and Marlow then traveled to Orange County, according to the memo, and were identified as being in Huntington Beach on Nov. 10, in the Laguna Beach area on Nov. 11 and the Corona del Mar and Huntington Beach areas again the next day, when Miss Murray was abducted.

After abducting Miss Murray from the dry-cleaning establishment where she worked, the couple took her to a beachfront motel in Huntington Beach, where she was found the next afternoon bound and face down in a bathtub full of water, the memo says. Strangulation was the cause of death, the memo said.

The memo also said that the continuing investigation has determined that Marlow and Coffman "were looking for a young female, attractive looking, long red fingernails and the victim in possession of a new car."

The memo said Coffman has lived in Page, Ariz., and Barstow, but originally came from Missouri. Both suspects are described as being heavy users of methamphetamines.

After the two allegedly killed Miss Murray in Huntington Beach, they went to Ontario, where they rented a motel room with Miss Murray's credit card, the memo said. The next day, Nov. 13, they abandoned Miss Novis' car in Running Springs and cleaned all fingerprints from the vehicle. They then hitchhiked to the Big Bear area, where they were arrested Nov. 14 near a motel they had checked into the previous day.

Earrings Found

Investigators who searched the room after the arrest found seven stud earrings, including one belonging to Miss Murray, according to the memo.

Where and how Coffman and Marlow met is difficult to trace, but the two apparently met after April 5 of this year, according to interviews conducted Tuesday.

On that date, Coffman and Douglas Edward Huntley, a man Coffman had followed to California from Arizona, were arrested in Barstow by California Highway Patrol officers on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, possession of deadly weapons, being under the influence of a narcotic drug, carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a loaded firearm.

They both entered not guilty pleas, but Huntley later pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced to the 42 days he had served in jail. He was placed on three years' probation.

According to neighbors, it was while Huntley was in jail that Marlow turned up at Coffman's apartment in Barstow. They said Marlow and Coffman left the apartment two weeks before Huntley was released from jail.

Marlow's mother-in-law, who would not give her name, also said Wednesday that her daughter, Kathleen Marlow, had married Greg Marlow in 1980 while he was serving time at Folsom State Prison for robbery.

The mother-in-law said Marlow had lived with her and her daughter in Lenwood, just west of Barstow, since 1983 when he was released from prison. She said he left last March after beating his wife and stealing her car.

Filed for Divorce

Kathleen Marlow has since filed for divorce, according to court records in Barstow.

"I'm not giving out her whereabouts because (Marlow) said if he don't get her, someone else would," her mother said.

Coffman had been scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 6 on the charges filed against her when she was arrested with Huntley. At that court appearance, her attorney, Bruce Arneson of Barstow, was to attempt to get her enrolled in a drug diversion program.

But Arneson said Tuesday that he talked to her only once and she failed to respond to his letters. Coffman failed to appear in court on Oct. 6, and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Times staff writer Mark Landsbaum contributed to this story.

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