2 Counts of Murder Lodged Against Santa Ana Father

Times Staff Writer

Joseph Peter Lynch was ordered held without bail Friday morning after he was charged with two counts of murder in connection with the bludgeoning deaths of his wife and their 13-month-old daughter.

Lynch, 43, looking gaunt and tired, did not enter a plea when he appeared briefly before Municipal Judge James P. Gray in Santa Ana. He stood, dressed in an orange jail-issued jumpsuit, in a section separated by wire grating from the rest of the courtroom.

Prosecutors added the second murder charge Friday after his daughter Natalie was declared brain dead Thursday at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. Conviction for a double murder could bring the death penalty.


Hearing Next Week

The judge scheduled another hearing for next Friday for Lynch’s court-appointed attorneys to file a plea on his behalf.

In the meantime, Lynch’s two surviving daughters--Holly, 9, and Angela, 4--were released to their maternal grandmother in a temporary custody arrangement approved Friday in Orange County Juvenile Court, authorities and friends of their mother said.

Doctors had been performing neurological tests on Natalie since Tuesday. Police found her after midnight Tuesday in the arms of her mother, Helen Lynch, 35, at the family’s Santa Ana condominium, police said. Both had been beaten with a champagne bottle, police said. Natalie had suffered massive skull fractures, and Helen Lynch was dead when police arrived, officials said.

The fate of the two surviving daughters is unresolved, even though Juvenile Court Referee Betty Farrell allowed their maternal grandmother, Joan Stuart, who arrived Thursday from Australia, to take them temporarily.

Difficulties Described

There will have to be another hearing in the next few weeks to decide on a more permanent arrangement for them, said Gordon Andahl, program director for the Orangewood Children’s Home. The girls had been in protective custody there since Tuesday.

People close to the girls say a permanent arrangement may be difficult to work out, however.

Both their mother’s and father’s relatives live outside the United States. Lynch is a native of Scotland. Helen Lynch was from Australia.

Stuart is caring for the girls with the help of family friends.

The Rev. Mike Pulsifer, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana, which the family attended, has helped set up a fund to pay for the girls’ care and for funeral expenses for their mother and sister.

“It’s going to take weeks and weeks and weeks to sort all this out,” Pulsifer said Friday. “We don’t know who even has a right to go into the family’s apartment to get the girls’ clothes. We don’t even know who has a key.”

Pulsifer said funeral arrangements also will be complicated because Lynch is in jail. The concern of those close to the family, he said, is that the girls be in familiar surroundings.

“We’re delighted that the girls are finally with people they know--close friends and family,” he said. “First things first, and that’s great.”

People wishing to help the girls, he said, should write to the Helen Lynch Fund at the church, 601 N. Sycamore St., Santa Ana, Calif. 92701.