August 30

This Day in History

Crime

Aug 30, 1989:

A murdering couple is sentenced to death

Cynthia Coffman and James Marlow are sentenced to death in San Bernardino, California, for the 1986 murder of Corinna Novis. Coffman was the first woman to receive a death sentence in the state since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977.

Coffman first met Marlow in May 1986, just after he was released from prison. Marlow, a career criminal, had been locked up for stealing his sixth wife's car. An earlier stint in Folsom prison had earned him the nickname of "The Folsom Wolf." Coffman and Marlow hit it off so fast that within weeks they were traveling the country together.

In late July, Marlow and Coffman were married in Tennessee. As a wedding gift, Coffman received a tattoo on her butt that read "Property of the Folsom Wolf." The couple moved back West, sponging off relatives until they made it to California in October.

On November 7, 1986, in Redlands, California, Corinna Novis disappeared from an ATM. Just five days later, Lynel Murray was kidnapped from outside the dry cleaners where she worked in Orange County.

On November 11, Novis' checkbook was found in a dumpster along with some papers that had Marlow's and Coffman's names on them. A lodge owner in Big Bear City reported that they had recently checked in. Over 100 men joined a search party that eventually caught the couple while hiking through the mountains in clothes that had been stolen from Murray's dry cleaners.

On this day in 1989, Marlow and Coffman were convicted of Novis' murder and sentenced to death; they were later also convicted of Murray's murder. They remain on death row.

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