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Killing, suicide stun Ventura County

December 02, 2006|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

A killing, an attempted murder and a suicide early Friday jolted two western Ventura County cities, officials said.

The body of John Marmo Jr., 27, of Camarillo was found by Ventura County sheriff's deputies responding to a report of shots fired. It was the city's first apparent homicide of 2006.

The shooting occurred about 6 a.m. in the 1200 block of Mission Verde Drive. Marmo, a salesman for a local equipment rental yard, was found lying in a courtyard between his front door and the street. Sheriff's detectives had not released any information late Friday about a possible motive or potential suspects, said spokesman Capt. Ron Nelson. However, officials are following several leads, he said.

Nelson said anyone with information about the shooting should call the detective unit at (805) 477-7000. People may also anonymously call Ventura County Crime Stoppers, a nonprofit group that offers a reward up to $1,000 for information leading to a criminal conviction, at (805) 494-TALK.

Marmo's death came hours after the Ventura Police Department responded to a 911 call from a woman who said her husband had shot her in the head.

Shortly before 1 a.m., emergency dispatchers received a call from Lydia Wells, 30, who whispered that she was calling from her bedroom after being shot between the temple and cheek by her spouse, Kareem Wells, 33.

"The victim says, 'I've been shot in the head.... I'm dying,' " Ventura Police Sgt. Jack Richards said. "She said her husband had shot her in the head. She thought he had left on foot or in the car."

Within minutes, squad cars arrived at the tri-level residence in the 200 block of Donner Avenue. Richards said the first officers on the scene found four minors in the house: Lydia Wells' 17-year-old sister; the couple's two daughters, ages 11 and 2; and a son, 3. Richards said the children apparently had not heard gunfire. Shortly after officers gained entry, a single gunshot was heard in the garage, and authorities rushed to get the four children away from the house.

According to police accounts, about half a dozen officers inside the house kept their guns drawn on the garage door and called in SWAT units, while others searched the second floor, where they found Lydia Wells lying bloody and unconscious in a bedroom.

Officers carried her to a patrol car, which took her to an ambulance a block away. She was taken to Ventura County Medical Center in critical condition.

About an hour after the SWAT teams arrived, an officer reported spotting what appeared to be a man lying inside the garage. When officers entered, they found Kareem Wells' body and determined that he had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

greg.griggs@latimes.com

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