Murder case against pro tennis referee took months to develop
Authorities originally believed that the husband of a well-known pro tennis referee died of natural causes last spring, court records revealed Thursday.
But on the eve of his cremation, a perfunctory check at the mortuary triggered a series of stunning revelations: The man had been beaten to death, the murder weapon was a coffee cup, and the prime suspect was his widow.
New details about how authorities came to believe the death of Alan Goodman was a homicide emerged Thursday, two days after the arrest of his wife, Lois, a prominent tennis umpire who was taken into custody in New York as she prepared to officiate at the U.S. Open.
Police who were called to the couple's Woodland Hills home April 17 found a blood trail leading to his body and severe wounds on his head. But officers accepted a theory advanced by his wife that he had fallen down the stairs before crawling into his bed.
"Some of the evidence matched her story," Lt. David Storacker said.
She told officers that she had been at Pierce College for six hours when she returned home and "observed a broken coffee mug on the floor which was covered in blood," according to an affidavit signed by a Los Angeles police detective.
"She discovered her husband laying in bed. He was covered in blood and did not appear to be breathing," Det. Jeffrey Briscoe wrote.
Two paramedics pronounced Alan Goodman dead and told their police counterparts about an "oddly shaped cut to the right side of the head," Briscoe wrote. "Firefighters advised Officers that scene appeared suspicious and left the body undisturbed."
But after learning of the octogenarian's various medical maladies and consulting with the coroner's office, police determined there was no crime and allowed Lois Goodman to transfer his body to a mortuary without an autopsy. It was at Heritage Crematory on April 20 that a coroner's investigator, sent to sign the death certificate, noted the multiple cuts on Alan Goodman's head and ears.
The "deep penetrating blunt force trauma ... was consistent with being impacted with a sharp object," Briscoe wrote.
His observations launched a homicide investigation. An autopsy revealed shards of the coffee cup in the wounds. A search warrant executed April 21 turned up blood throughout the home "inconsistent with accidental death," Briscoe wrote. Stains on carpets, the refrigerator door, inside a linen closet and on the wall leading to the garage suggested "a mobile victim" who, police theorized, would have called for help.
-- Richard Winton, Harriet Ryan and Hailey Branson-Potts
Photo: Lois Goodman in police custody Tuesday in New York after being arrested at her hotel. Credit: CBS 2