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Woman slain in Century City had feared for her life

Times Staff Writer

For months Pamela Fayed thought her life might be in danger.

She talked about it with a neighbor. She sent text messages to a business associate. Her brother, Scott Goudie, said it was a frequent topic of their weekly conversations.

“She said, ‘If you don’t hear from me, something is wrong,” said Goudie, who lives in Salt Lake City.

On July 28, her fear became reality. Moments after leaving a meeting with her estranged husband and divorce attorneys, Pamela Fayed, 44, was slashed and stabbed to death in the parking garage of a Century City office building.

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A short time later her husband, James Fayed, 45, was arrested on fraud charges stemming from the couple’s international gold trading business. He remains in custody.

Federal prosecutors successfully argued against bail, calling Fayed the “primary suspect” in his wife’s death. On Friday, Los Angeles police detectives investigating her slaying conducted a search of Fayed’s Moorpark ranch house.

But after three weeks in custody, James Fayed has not been charged in his wife’s slaying.

“Prosecutors have been beating war drums on this murder charge but have brought nothing but unsubstantiated allegations and no charges,” said Mark Werksman, Fayed’s criminal defense attorney. “They have not shown us since that Mr. Fayed is involved at all in Mrs. Fayed’s death.”

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In the weeks since the slaying, a fuller picture of the couple has emerged from a tangle of divorce documents, public records and interviews with relatives and friends. What it reveals is an eight-year union that dissolved into a bitter fight over custody of a young daughter and control of the couple’s international gold trading company.

“She was happy at first,” Goudie said. “She seemed to be doing OK with everything until this last year or so.”

Pamela was the youngest daughter of a Marine father who raised four children in Salt Lake City, Goudie said. James was born in Washington, D.C., and spent much of his youth in Maryland, public records show.

They met in California, where Pamela, then known as Pam Goudie, had moved as a young woman. She had bigger dreams than Salt Lake City could offer, her brother said.

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“Pam was always ambitious,” Goudie said. “She was certainly willing to take a risk.”

She trained as a jeweler, crafting rings and pendants at shops around Southern California, he said. By 1998, she was the single mother of a daughter, Desiree Goudie, now 18. The mother and daughter lived in several cities in Orange County in the 1990s before settling in Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert, public records show.

That is where she met James Fayed, who was working at a local military base as an electrical contractor, Goudie said. Friends introduced them at a weekend motorcycle ride, and they hit it off. Their daughter, Jeanett Fayed, was born in January 1999, and the couple wed five months later.

But there were early signs of trouble. In January 2000, James Fayed filed for divorce in Ventura County. Two weeks later, he dismissed the action.

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In a declaration supporting her brother’s most recent divorce filing, Mary Mercedes wrote that Pamela Fayed had an “intense hatred of her husband” and had threatened to have him thrown in jail after the 2000 divorce filing.

“ ‘All I have to do is say that he hurts me, or my daughters, and he will be history,” ’ Mercedes recounted in court documents, quoting an alleged conversation with Pamela Fayed.

Mercedes wrote that Pamela Fayed made insulting comments about James’ appearance and his frequent trips to Las Vegas, allegedly telling her, “Everything about him disgusts me.”

By 2002, the couple had moved into a two-story home in the Camarillo foothills and were raising the two girls. They had also begun to build a business that they ran together, Goldfinger Coin & Bullion Sales.

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Working through an affiliated website, e-Bullion, the pair bought and sold gold for investors, according to their website. As the value of the dollar started weakening, the business boomed, James Fayed said in court filings.

Over a five-year period, company sales increased 1,623%, James Fayed reported. Pamela Fayed told the court that the couple had bank accounts worth $12 million, plus stores of gold and silver in the United States, Europe and Australia.

The Fayeds bought a second home, a Moorpark ranch on more than 260 acres, and sent the girls to good schools, Goudie said.

“She always had nice cars and nice homes and all,” he said of his sister, “but she never talked about money or flaunted it.”

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Always a hard worker, Pamela was also proud of the success the couple had made of their business, said Goudie, who saw his sister on her occasional visits home.

“She helped build that business,” he said. “Everything they had she was a part of.”

In court papers, Pamela Fayed said that for a couple of years she ran the company solo when her husband became bedridden.

James Fayed’s sister and his attorney said that he was taking prescribed medicines to deal with rheumatoid arthritis and an auto-immune disorder. Pamela told friends that he was an addict, Mercedes said in court filings.

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Werksman called the allegation an attempt to smear James Fayed in the divorce proceedings.

In October 2007, James filed for divorce again.

He also asked the court to keep Pamela away from the business’ finances and operations, at least until a court-appointed mediator could be called in to sort things out. Pamela Fayed had responded aggressively, seeking to have the family business removed from her estranged husband’s control.

A month before she died, Pamela Fayed told federal prosecutors that she wanted to cooperate in a criminal probe into the couple’s gold trading business. James Fayed’s attorney said his client was unaware of her offer.

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Prosecutors noted in court documents that James Fayed was expected to be ordered to pay about $1 million in spousal support and attorney fees on July 29, the day after his wife was killed.

She was attacked in the Century City parking garage about 6:30 p.m. after leaving a meeting with her estranged husband and their divorce attorneys, prosecutors said.

Jose Beltran, who works in the office complex across the street, heard Fayed’s screams. He looked up to the third floor of the garage, saw her covered in blood and raced to help, he said.

He and two other men struggled to keep her alive as they waited for an ambulance, Beltran said. He stripped off his undershirt and wrapped it around her neck to staunch the bloody stab wounds.

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A doctor from a nearby building arrived and performed CPR, Beltran said. But the wounds to Fayed’s neck and face were too severe. Ninety minutes later, she was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The brazen attack, carried out in daylight in one of Los Angeles’ busiest professional centers, left Beltran, a 33-year-old father of two, shaken.

“I’m thinking, ‘Why would someone do this?’ ”

Fayed’s family recently traveled to California to lay her to rest, Goudie said. The wait for an arrest in her killing has been frustrating.

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“We’ve all dealt with tragedy in one form or another, but this is completely different,” he said. “We want to see justice served.”

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catherine.saillant@latimes.com


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