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Woman Gets Life Without Parole in Brutal Murder : Crime: The ex-preschool teacher drowned the wife of her lover and tried to burn the victim’s daughter alive.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dressed in a conservative white suit with an electric blue blouse and shoes to match, Glynnis McKinney looked more the part of the preschool teacher she once was than the brutal murderer she had become.

With her two attorneys occasionally patting her arm and squeezing her hands, McKinney, 30, silently brushed away a few tears Friday as she was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in state prison without possibility of parole.

The description of what she had done was incongruous with the image of the impeccably dressed, passive woman in court.

On Aug. 18, 1987, jurors had concluded, McKinney drowned her lover’s wife, abandoned the victim’s two small boys in a shopping mall and then tried to burn alive the woman’s 7-year-old daughter.

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McKinney was arrested at her Carson-area home the next day when she tried to burn the dead woman’s body in the back yard.

“These were horrible, horrible crimes she committed,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Lael Rubin said. “So much of this was just unbelievably coldblooded.”

Rubin charged that McKinney enlisted the help of two teen-age girls, including a 16-year-old who worked at a preschool with her and “idolized her as a mentor,” to kill Rachael Perez, 28, the wife of her lover, Ted Perez, both of Rowland Heights.

Using the ruse that Ted Perez had been injured in a traffic accident, the trio persuaded Rachael Perez and her three small children to come with them to McKinney’s home, Rubin said.

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There, with the three children waiting in another room, McKinney and the teen-age girls tried to asphyxiate Rachael Perez with a noxious mixture of ammonia, bleach and insecticide, Rubin said. When Perez became groggy but did not die, prosecutors said, McKinney filled a bathtub with water, had the girls hold Perez’s arms and legs, then held her head under water until she drowned.

McKinney then hid Perez’s body in a closet and left the three children with a baby-sitter at her house while she went to work at her mother’s Gardena preschool, Rubin said.

When McKinney returned home, she drove Perez’s sons, ages 3 and 4, to a Whittier shopping mall and abandoned them.

“Apparently, she thought that because it was near MacLaren Hall, they would get there, somehow,” Rubin said, referring to a county child-care facility. A man found the boys hours later huddled together, crying, on a Whittier sidewalk.

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McKinney drove Perez’s 7-year-old daughter to an East Los Angeles warehouse area, where she placed the girl on a blanket, doused her with gasoline and set her on fire. Prosecutors said that because the girl knew McKinney from the preschool, McKinney felt obligated to kill her to keep her from testifying against her.

The child survived because a security guard found her and doused the flames. She was scarred with burns over a third of her body.

The next day, police said, McKinney dragged Perez’s body into the back yard and set it on fire. Alarmed neighbors called fire officials and police, who discovered the smoldering corpse and later arrested McKinney and Ted Perez.

Although Ted Perez was never charged in the case, he was charged a year later with molesting the 7-year-old before she was burned. He was convicted earlier this year and sentenced to 38 years in state prison.

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The two teen-agers pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and are serving sentences of 15 years to life at a California Youth Authority facility.

McKinney’s attorneys left court Friday without comment and did not return telephone calls. But during the penalty phase of the trial, attorney John T. Doyle argued that his client had been duped by Ted Perez into doing his dirty work.

Three weeks before the murder, Doyle said, Rachael Perez had caught her husband raping her daughter.

“There was a huge fight about it,” Doyle said. “My theory at the penalty phase of Glynnis’ trial was he got caught in bed with the little girl, mom was upset and threatening and he put my client up to murdering the mom.”

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McKinney believed that she had to get her lover’s wife out of the way before she could have him all to herself, Doyle said.

“You’ve got a self-loathing, unsophisticated woman who wasn’t very attractive and who’s very naive about men,” Doyle said. “Along comes this guy, Ted Perez, who tells her she’s attractive and worthwhile. . . . Her life became caught up in him. Without him, she ceased to exist emotionally.”

Investigators had no evidence of Ted Perez’s involvement other than McKinney’s statements, Rubin said, which were not considered sufficient to charge him.

Doyle said McKinney is in emotional agony over what she did.

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“It’s a tragic case all the way around,” Doyle said. “Because of the type of person she was . . . she realizes what she did and she’s going to continue to punish herself every day for the rest of her life.”


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