CRIME HUNTER: Serial Killer Cynthia Coffman is the oldest woman on death row

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No woman alive has spent more time on American death row than Cynthia Coffman.


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The most recent count has her caged at the Central California Women’s Center in Chowchilla, in the central interior of the Golden State, about 250 miles northwest of Los Angeles, for the past 32 years, one month and 20 days.

Coffman, now 59, was the first woman sentenced to the big goodbye after California reinstated the death penalty in 1977.


Coffman was raised a devout Catholic in a wealthy St. Louis family, but when she became pregnant at 17, her lovely young life took a turn. She would end up marrying the father of her child, but the marriage was miserable and violent.

After five years of domestic horror, Coffman had enough, packed his bags and fled to Arizona. Her new relationship with a low-rent drug lord soured when the couple were arrested for running a red light in California.


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The cops found the loaded pistol, and the methamphetamine, in Coffman’s purse. The charges against him were eventually dropped, but during this juncture, Coffman would meet the man who would change his life.

Coffman's pistol.  BROCHURE / CA STATE POLICE
Coffman’s pistol. BROCHURE / CA STATE POLICE

Her boyfriend’s cellmate was a guy named James Gregory Marlow. He was a car thief and had just finished a three-year jolt in the famous Folsom prison.

Behind bars, he developed an affinity for the inmates’ version of the Third Reich: the prison’s neo-Nazi gang, the Aryan Brotherhood, and their friends called him the “Folsom Wolf.”

Marlow and Coffman fell in love and she left her previous boyfriend.

On the highways and roads of the United States, the couple committed minor crimes, the occasional armed robbery and other elements of the repertoire of the petty criminal. In Tennessee, the couple married and, in a romantic gesture, Coffman got “I Belong to Folsom’s Wolf” tattooed on his butt.


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And then the slaughter began.


In Costa Mesa, California, on October 11, 1986, Coffman and Marlow kidnapped, raped, and murdered 32-year-old Sandra Neary. In Bullhead City, Arizona, on October 28, 1986, the couple abducted Pamela Simmons, 35, while using an ATM.

On November 7, 1986, the assassins struck again in Calfiornia. This time the victim was 20-year-old Corinna Novis, who was also kidnapped and killed after taking cash from an ATM. On November 12, 1986, the couple grabbed Lynel Murray from a shopping mall parking lot in the middle of the day.

Two days later, her body was found in a seedy Huntington Beach motel room. They had raped and strangled her.

License of victim Lynel Murray.  BROCHURE / CA STATE POLICE
License of victim Lynel Murray. BROCHURE / CA STATE POLICE


It was carelessness that would eventually stop the killers in their tracks.

Novis’s check book was discovered in a garbage container with a discarded fast food bag containing papers with the names of Coffman and Marlow. Detectives began planning their death trip that revealed their hotel stays at the locations where they had murdered.


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On November 14, 1986, the suspect owner of a shelter in Big Bear, California, tipped off police that the couple were guests. Coffman and Marlow were caught walking on a nearby mountain.

They both wore outfits stolen from the dry cleaners where Murray worked.

Coffman quickly broke through and led the cops to Novis’s body. They had sodomized and strangled her.

In a San Bernardino County court, on July 18, 1989, a jury sentenced the couple to death.

Three years later, Coffman told the Orange County Registrar that she was scared.

“I am afraid of the death penalty … but I hope to go to a better place than here,” he told the newspaper. “But I still prefer to have life.”

The 1983 murder of Shari Lynne Ball remains unsolved.  BROCHURE / NY STATE POLICE
The 1983 murder of Shari Lynne Ball remains unsolved. BROCHURE / NY STATE POLICE


The body of Shari Lynne Ball, 20, was discovered a long way from her home in Florida.


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On October 29, 1983, a hunter discovered a body on the shoulder of New York State Route 63 at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in the town of Shelby in Orleans County. Police determined that the severely decomposed remains had been there for several months.

The remains were not identified until 2013 when DNA tests were conducted and the body was identified as Ball’s.

Her family had reported her missing in Boca Raton in June 1983. Shari had told her family that she was going to New York with a friend to pursue a modeling career.

Anyone with information about this investigation should contact the New York State Police Criminal Investigation Office in Batavia at 1-585-344-6200. See SJS # 3032334.




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411: Puddicomb, 57, was last seen on January 7, 1997 at 7:15 a.m. after leaving his Hamilton Mountain residence to walk to work. According to the information, Puddicomb was at the 7-Eleven store located on Main St. E. and Ashford St. at 7:35 a.m. He never showed up for work.

DESCRIPTION: White, 5’6 ″, 150 lbs (68 kg), short light brown / gray hair (receding hairline), brown eyes and blue jeans, a beige cotton / nylon padded jacket, black boots and carrying a yellow duffel bag.

CONTACT: Anyone with information should contact the Crime Victims Unit D / Sgt at 905-546-4962.

[email protected]




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