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Tennis umpire arrested in husband's slaying

Authorities say Lois Ann Goodman bludgeoned her husband, Alan Frederick Goodman, in their Woodland Hills home in April. She was arrested in New York, where she's preparing to work at the U.S. Open.

August 22, 2012|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Lois Goodman was arrested Tuesday at a Manhattan hotel. She was in New York to officiate at the U.S. Open.
Lois Goodman was arrested Tuesday at a Manhattan hotel. She was in New York… (CBS 2 )

A high-ranking umpire on the U.S. tennis circuit was arrested Tuesday on charges she fatally bludgeoned her 80-year-old husband with a coffee mug, then tried to make it look like he took a deadly tumble down the stairs of their Woodland Hills home, authorities said.

Lois Ann Goodman, 70 was taken into custody at a hotel in New York City, where she was preparing to work at theU.S. Open tennis tournament. Goodman has worked as an umpire for decades, officiating matches of some of the sport's top players.

She initially told police that her husband, Alan Frederick Goodman, took a fatal fall April 17 down the stairs of their Woodland Hills home, police said.

But Los Angeles County prosecutors said Tuesday that Alan Goodman met a far more gruesome end at the hands of his spouse.

"She bludgeoned him to death with a coffee mug," said Jane Robison, a district attorney's spokeswoman.

Despite Goodman's expression of sadness over the accident, Los Angeles police Lt. David Storaker said it "was a suspicious death from the onset," adding that Alan Goodman's head injuries seemed more consistent with an attack.

Within weeks, forensic evidence supported that view. A Los Angeles County coroner's medical examiner found the injuries were inconsistent with an accidental fall.

"It was a homicide. He had multiple sharp-force injuries," said Ed Winter, assistant chief of investigations for the coroner.

During the last few months, detectives gathered evidence and served several warrants, including at least one at Goodman's town house, Storaker said.

Neighbor Adaline Handler recalled seeing police raid the house about a month ago.

"They did a search warrant and put her out on the porch," Handler said. "Bad news travels fast in this complex.... The police cars were very obvious."

Handler said neighbors in the Oxnard Street complex were told Alan Goodman fell down the stairs with something in his hand. Lois Goodman "had all the rugs cleaned right after it happened and then the police came back," Handler said.

She described Alan Goodman as a "nice little man" who suffered from diabetes. The couple were often seen together at the swimming pool, she said.

Los Angeles police said it has been difficult to track down Goodman because she travels frequently, and for weeks at a time. They learned she was scheduled to be in New York for theU.S. Open, where qualifying matches are underway.

They arrested her after she finished breakfast Tuesday morning at a Midtown Sheraton. New York police handcuffed her and walked her past photographers. She wore a blueU.S. Open jacket.

Storaker said detectives believe they have a motive for the killing, but they declined to release those details. They are asking the public to come forward with any relevant information about the couple in the months leading to the killing.

News of Lois Goodman's arrest shocked the tight-knit Southern California tennis community, where she has been a fixture since the late 1970s as an official.

A longtime colleague said she doesn't believe Lois Goodman killed her husband.

"I've worked with her for years, and I don't believe any of this," said Annette Buck, a program director at the United States Tennis Assn.'s Southern California Tennis Assn.

Goodman has shared the court with some of the world's top tennis players since the 1970s. In a 1994 interview with The Times, she described her love of her job.

"It's exciting," she said. "This is my favorite sport, and I'm out there rubbing shoulders with the best players. There's no real way to describe it."

She was known as a no-nonsense official capable of reining in the most unruly players. In 1994, she recounted being on the receiving end of dirty glares from John McEnroe and garnering an apology from Andre Agassi.

When she called an Agassi serve out of bounds, Goodman said, "He carried on and complained and complained," Goodman said. "Then he came back to the line where I was standing and asked the crowd behind me how they saw the ball. Everyone yelled that the ball was out and he got real mad, but he came up to me and said, 'I stand corrected. I apologize.'"

richard.winton@latimes.com

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