Shooting suspect charged with murder

Victims are special-education preschool instructional aide and her father. Slain woman, her ex-husband were arguing over custody of their daughter, police said.

May 04, 2011|By Lauren Williams,

Editor's note: This corrects Stacy Lynne de Boom-Howard's name.

COSTA MESA — The small, residential street of Santa Clara Circle was quiet Wednesday, with few signs that two people had been slain there the night before.

Two yellow tarps were draped in front of Robert Lehmann's modest, single-story house. A thin trail of blood had dried and was crusted on the path that led to the well-manicured lawn, which police had taped off.


A brown truck parked in the driveway had the license plate "Dady ♥ AJ."

Costa Mesa police detectives returned to the scene in the 3400 block during the day Wednesday to see if they could spot anything they might have initially missed after the fatal shooting Tuesday night, said Lt. Bryan Glass.

Lehmann, 36, was arrested Tuesday as the suspect in the shooting deaths of his ex-wife, Emily Ford, 32, of Costa Mesa, and her father, Russell Ford, 62, of Downey. Police said Lehmann's motive might have been over child custody arrangements.

Booked and charged with two counts of murder, Lehmann was being held in the jail at the Costa Mesa Police Department as of Wednesday, said Lt. Robert Sharpnack.

The Fords had come to Lehmann's home to pick up the former couple's 7-year-old daughter, Glass said.

Emily Ford was a special-education preschool instructional aide at Paularino Elementary School in Costa Mesa, who was described as engaging and loved by the staff. She worked with autistic children between the ages of 3 and 4, said Principal Stacy Lynne de Boom-Howard.

She also leaves behind a 3-month-old son she had with her current husband and her 7-year-old daughter, who attends Sonora Elementary School in Costa Mesa, school district officials said.

"She was a wonderful, nice lady who always had a smile on her face," de Boom-Howard said. "She was very happy with where her life was. She was in a very happy relationship."

She came to work cheerful every day, de Boom-Howard said.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District has sent grief counselors to Paularino and Sonora.

Romolo Docson, who was pushing his 2-year-old, Julia, in a red car around the neighborhood Wednesday, said that the killings surprised him.

Marco Antonio Arroyo lives two doors down from Lehmann. He said that he didn't even know the couple were separated and that the family always seemed very happy.

Arroyo, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, said he would see Lehmann's daughter playing outside the home, and said that Lehmann was always very affectionate with her.

"I would have never imagined," Arroyo said. "Never! I never saw anything contrary. They always seemed happy."


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