Residents in a quiet northwest Fresno neighborhood still are in shock after learning that an elderly neighbor and her adult daughter were found murdered in a home earlier this week.
Neighbors described Cynthia Houk as a quiet widow dealing with health problems. The 88-year-old, who fell often, recently underwent hip surgery. She gave neighbors keys to her home in case she needed help getting up.
Houk was found dead with her 55-year-old daughter, Jennifer DuPras, on Monday after a concerned neighbor requested the authorities check on them. Sheriff’s deputies discovered their bodies around 3 p.m. and spent all night collecting evidence. The sheriff’s office concluded the women were murdered, but investigators are still piecing together a time line to determine when they died, sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said.
Autopsies on the women are complete, but investigators have not said how they died.
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There were no signs of forced entry into the home, and deputies borrowed a key from neighbors Lorraine and Dave Fultz to get into Houk’s residence.
Houk moved into the neighborhood 40 years ago with her husband, William “Bill” Houk, an intelligence officer for the U.S. Air Force, neighbors said. The couple raised their children, Jennifer and son Jeff, in the home. William Houk died in 2011, Bee archives show.
The Fultzes said Houk, who was a stay-at-home mother, kept to herself and was quiet.
The couple let deputies into the home on Monday with one of Jennifer’s friends from the Alliance Francaise de Fresno.
“The one lady went in to quiet the dog, and when she was pushed out we knew it was bad,” Dave Fultz said.
Dave Fultz saw Jennifer put the garbage cans out Thursday night and saw her walking the dog Friday morning. Another neighbor noted the Saturday newspaper was picked up, but the Sunday paper wasn’t. But no one heard any noise from the home over the weekend or saw anything suspicious.
On Wednesday, two bouquets of flowers rested on the front steps of Houk’s home where the women were found.
DuPras retired earlier this year from a 26-year education career with the Kingsburg Charter Elementary School District. She was part of the Alliance Francaise de Fresno. The group posted about her death on Facebook, and many people lamented her death in the comments, noting her kindness.
DuPras filed for divorce from her husband of 31 years in October and began staying with her mother.
Investigators served search warrants on Tuesday at the Kingsburg home that Jennifer DuPras shared with her estranged husband, Alan DuPras. He was questioned and several firearms were removed from the home, but there was no probable cause to arrest him, Botti said, noting he fully cooperated with investigators.