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Slaying at DMV Office : Crime: Supervisor at Hawthorne branch is found dead outside building. Employees there had complained about lack of security.

September 13, 1991|JANET RAE-DUPREE and EDWARD J. BOYER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A supervisor at a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Hawthorne was shot and killed Thursday, prompting her angry co-workers to demand more protection.

The body of Lynn Wehner, 34, of Pico Rivera was found behind the DMV building at 2:30 p.m. by another staff member, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Dick Dinsmoor. Wehner, operations manager at the branch, went to lunch at about 12:30 p.m., and a co-worker went looking for her when she did not return, Dinsmoor said.

She was found behind the building at 3700 W. El Segundo Blvd., lying against a curb with six gunshot wounds to her upper torso, the deputy said.

"I heard women screaming and banging on the locked back door to get in," said Ella Willson, a field representative in the office. "When the door was open the women were hysterical--fainting, screaming, crying. I couldn't believe what had happened."

Dinsmoor said investigators assume that Wehner's attacker fled in her 1987 black Nissan 280 ZX with vanity license plates TZZZ. The vehicle was found Thursday evening in the 100 block of W. Ellis Ave. in Inglewood.

Beefed-up security at the building "could have prevented what happened today," Willson said. "We've been trying and trying to get security in the building because the area is not safe."

She said employees in the office sent a petition two years ago to then-Gov. George Deukmejian, the DMV director and the agency's chief of field operations asking for security at the building.

"They turned us down," Willson said. "We've had muggings, an armed robbery in the office and now a killing outside the office. None of us feel safe coming in and out of the office.

"We just wonder what does it take to get some protection for the employees. Who's next? We're all very angry."

DMV officials at the scene would not talk to reporters, so the employee security requests could not immediately be confirmed. A state police lieutenant said there was no way to determine early Thursday evening what security problems the facility might have had.

However, California State Police Lt. Michael Morgan said, "To my knowledge, this is not a high-crime area."

As investigators from four law enforcement agencies pored over the crime scene hours after the killing, a thin, black dog trotted up to the building, prompting one woman to burst into tears.

Wehner, the second highest official in the office, fed the dog every day at about that time, the woman explained.

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