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Councilwoman Widowed by Slaying Supported and Rebuked at Meeting : Politics: Public's comments center on Evelyn Wells and allegations of an affair with the city manager.

April 22, 1993|HOWARD BLUME | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LYNWOOD — Councilwoman Evelyn Wells silently endured an hour of praise and criticism this week in the city's first council meeting since the slaying of her estranged husband, Donald Moore.

Moore, 36, who was gunned down three weeks ago, had accused Wells of having an affair with Lynwood City Manager Laurence H. Adams Jr. Wells and Adams have denied having an affair.

Wells, a council member for eight years, was the main subject during the public-comments portion of the meeting. Eighteen residents lined up to speak vehemently for and against her. Some called for her resignation, but most offered support and praise.

"I haven't stopped supporting you," John Hopkins, pastor of Lynwood's Truevine Missionary Baptist Church told Wells. "And I will support you till the end."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday May 6, 1993 Home Edition Long Beach Part J Page 3 Column 1 Zones Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Employee killed--A story in The Times April 22 incorrectly identified a Lynwood city employee who was shot to death. The victim was Donald Morris, husband of Lynwood Councilwoman Evelyn Wells.

Investigators have said the two city officials are not suspects in Moore's death.

Samuel Baxter, 31, a city graffiti remover, has been arrested in connection with the slaying. Detectives have released few details about the case.

In public comments, Wells' supporters say that investigators have accused Wells of no wrongdoing.

"You don't have evidence, you don't have anything," resident Eloise Evans said to Wells' opponents.

"It hurts my heart," resident Ken Alford added. "Mrs. Wells has been like a mother to me. To hear these different rumors makes me furious. . . . We have no right to judge anybody."

Then he addressed Wells directly: "I'll be there for you. OK?"

Wells nodded and blinked back tears, one of the few times she responded to comments.

When she did speak, she emphasized that she was newly widowed.

"I need you to pray for me through this time of bereavement," she said. "It has been a very trying time for me."

After the meeting, Wells would not discuss the controversy surrounding her.

"I just want it to end," she said.

City Manager Adams sat quietly Tuesday through several calls from residents for his resignation, and declined to answer questions from reporters. He was appointed to the city's top administrative job by the council less than a year ago.

The handful of critics included resident Scott Johansen, who said he would participate in a recall if Wells did not voluntarily leave office. "What you did is your own business, but it put a cloud over the city," Johansen said.

Mayor Paul H. Richards II quickly admonished Johansen and said he would silence speakers who referred specifically to events outside the scope of city business.

True to his word, the mayor directed deputies to escort Henry Loya Terrazas outside when Terrazas refused to be silent about the alleged affair.

Terrazas said Moore had hired him to determine if Wells was having an affair and that Moore's suspicions were correct.

Richards cut him off, warning him to address only relevant city issues.

"It is relevant to your ethics," Terrazas said.

"What you have investigated in your private practice has nothing to do with the city of Lynwood," Richards said.

"The Bible calls it adultery, and I have to call it as I see it," Terrazas shot back.

Richards summoned deputies as Terrazas continued with his allegations.

About 70 people filled the crowded council chamber, while about a dozen others clustered outside the door.

One of Wells' most vocal critics, Councilman Armando Rea, saved his remarks for an interview outside the chamber.

Rea said he has seen video and audio evidence that convinces him Wells and Adams were having an affair.

"It's unethical, unorthodox and conduct unbecoming an elected and an appointed official," Rea said. "I believe it violates the trust and confidence of those city employees who have to work around them.

"But it's not for me to tell Evelyn Wells to step down," he said.

Other council members did not want to be pulled into the controversy.

The council handled routine business, including selecting city commissioners.

Also on the agenda was an effort by the Rev. Charles L. Floyd to bring a card casino to the city. The city clerk noted that Floyd had gathered enough signatures to qualify a referendum on the casino for the ballot.

Council members were not required to take immediate action on the casino, however, and avoided stating their positions.

Richards said the council also should take no action regarding Wells and Adams and make no judgments until more is known.

"If we are to act responsibly, we must act on the facts as they come out," Richards said.

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