Months after her mom and grandma were murdered, she’s demanding an arrest from DA

Cynthia Houk, 88, left, and daughter Jennifer Dupras, 55, were found slain in a Fresno home on Dec. 11, 2017.
Cynthia Houk, 88, left, and daughter Jennifer Dupras, 55, were found slain in a Fresno home on Dec. 11, 2017.

Alison Dupras says she knows who killed her mother and grandmother.

She says the police know, too.

But no arrest has been made since the double homicide was committed eight months ago.

Dupras, 26, is demanding action from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp. She plans to hold a silent protest outside the DA’s office all day Monday in honor of her mother, Jennifer Dupras, 55, and grandmother, 88-year-old Cynthia Houk. Both were found dead with gunshot wounds inside their northwest Fresno home in December.

“We are gathering silently and peacefully to let (Smittcamp) know that we as a community cannot accept anything other than an arrest and full trial...” Dupras said. “I have been told the detectives are certain of who has committed this atrocity and any jury would find the suspect guilty.”

Dupras wants the DA’s office to take on the case and make an arrest — and soon. But law enforcement officials said it’s not that simple.

Lt. Jose Salinas said there are “persons of interest” but that the sheriff’s office is not ready to release a suspect’s name. Smittcamp said that while her office has offered investigative assistance, the sheriff’s office “remains the lead investigative agency on the case.”

“This investigation is large and we’ve talked to a lot of people and we’re still in the process of looking at all the evidence we have and testing things we want tested,” Salinas said.

Dupras and Smittcamp exchanged words on the protest’s Facebook page after Dupras criticized the length of the investigation and said that the DA needs to be reminded that domestic violence cases are one of her priorities.

But Smittcamp isn’t taking offense.

“The perception might be that she’s attacking the DA’s office, but I don’t feel that at all. I feel like she’s a victim of a horrendous crime, suffering a horrendous tragedy, and she’s doing the very best she can to advocate for her mom and her grandma,” Smittcamp said. “Homicide investigations are extremely complex. They involve witness statements; the examination of physical evidence; medical and autopsy evidence; the examination of firearms... They are lengthy and oftentimes difficult.”

Fresno County Sheriff’s homicide detectives on Monday, May 21, 2018 released a video with a time stamp of a vehicle possibly tied to an unsolved double murder case from December of last year.

Few details have been released about the case. Nothing appeared stolen from the home, and neighbors said they didn’t notice anything suspicious. In April, nearby surveillance footage linked a white pickup truck to the crime scene.

Dupras was a retired Kingsburg elementary school principal who was active with the Alliance Francaise de Fresno. Houk was the widow of a former intelligence officer for the U.S. Air Force. The two women started living together after Dupras filed for divorce three months prior to her death.

Two bouquets of flowers rest on the doorstep of the home on North Colonial Avenue in Fresno where 88-year-old Cynthia Houk and her 55-year-old daughter, Jennifer Dupras, were found dead. BRIANNA CALIX bcalix@fresnobee.com

Alison Dupras declined to name a suspect, but said she’s “very close” to who she believes committed the murders.

“I don’t think I need to say who I think it is. Everyone knows without saying,” she said. “It’s very clear who did this.”

Dupras said she’s “very grateful” to the people working on the case, but said she believes the sheriff’s homicide team is spread too thin. Of the 85 murders committed in Fresno County last year, 17 fell under the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office has seven deputies assigned to the homicide unit.

“I don’t think it’s fair for me and my family, and for the new homicides, that they have to have one person juggling multiple cases every day,” she said. “Every day that they delay it, the murderer is driving next to people on the road, living in our community. It’s scary to me. It’s not OK.”

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said the case continues to be under investigation.

“We’ve never stopped working on this case,” she said. “This is not something you hurry up. When it’s ready, we’ll submit it to the DA. In any investigation, we have to be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, and that’s a very high threshold. We only get one chance at this prosecution.”

For Dupras, life will never be the same.

She said she checks every room in her apartment when she gets home from work “because that’s the way it happened; my mom was basically ambushed.”

She thinks about how she spent a lot of time with her mom and grandma in their home the week before they were murdered.

“I’m constantly thinking about, ‘What if I was there? What if he had killed me, too? What if he has nothing to lose at this point?’” Dupras said.

Mackenzie Mays: 559-441-6412, @MackenzieMays