US Open tennis umpire accused of killing husband with coffee mug

Lois Goodman, who was to officiate at US Open, held for battering her husband, 80, to death with mug then claiming he fell down the stairs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2012, 4:17am


A high-ranking umpire on the US tennis circuit has been arrested on charges she bludgeoned her 80-year-old husband to death with a coffee mug.

Lois Goodman, 70, then tried to make it look like he tumbled down the stairs of their California home, authorities said.

She was taken into custody at a hotel in New York, where she was preparing to work at the US Open tournament.

Goodman has worked as an umpire for decades, officiating matches for some of the sport's top players.

She initially told police her husband, Alan, died in a fall down the stairs of their San Fernando Valley home on April 17.

But district attorney's spokesman Jane Robison said: "She bludgeoned him to death with a coffee mug."

Despite Goodman's expression of sadness over the accident, Los Angeles police Lieutenant David Storaker said it was "a suspicious death from the onset".

He said Goodman's head injuries looked like they had been inflicted during an attack.

And 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 the Goodmans' town house, Storaker said.

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

She said neighbours in the 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", she added.

Los Angeles police said it was difficult to track down Goodman because she travels frequently, and for weeks at a time.

Then they learned she was scheduled to be in New York for the US Open, where qualifying matches are under way.

They arrested her after she finished breakfast at a midtown Sheraton hotel.

New York police handcuffed her and walked her past photographers while she was still wearing her blue US Open jacket.

Storaker said detectives believe they have a motive for the killing, but refused to give details.

Members of the public are being asked to come forward with any relevant information about the couple in the months leading up to the killing.

News of Goodman's arrest shocked those in the tight-knit southern California tennis community, where she has been an official since the late 1970s.

A longtime colleague said she doesn't believe Lois Goodman killed her husband. Annette Buck, of the Southern California Tennis Association, said: "I've worked with her for years and I don't believe any of this."

Goodman described her love of her job in a 1994 interview with the Los Angeles Times. She said: "This is my favourite sport and I'm out there rubbing shoulders with the best players. There's no real way to describe it."