Crime

Alan Dupras ‘likely’ involved in killings of his wife and her mother, detectives say

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.

Sheriff’s detectives believe Alan Dupras is likely involved in the killings of his wife, retired Kingsburg school principal Jennifer Dupras, and her mother in December, according to court documents.

The detectives based their belief on the couple’s history of domestic violence, their pending “bad” divorce, Jennifer Dupras seeing someone else, and their daughter telling investigators that her father has depression and no job, no friends and “nothing to live for.”

Alan Dupras, 58, also was searching online to learn the identity of Jennifer Dupras’ new partner and how to disable the GPS device on his pickup, the documents say.

Alan Dupras has not been named as a suspect in the killings. Fresno County sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti on Wednesday said Dupras is a “person of interest” but declined to comment, saying “it remains an open investigation.”

The documents give the public the first close-up view of an investigation that detectives say could lead to his arrest on double murder charges.

Crime scene

Jennifer Dupras, 55, and her 88-year-old mother Cynthia Houk, were found dead Dec. 11, 2017, inside Houk’s home on Colonial Avenue in northwest Fresno. Detectives believe they were shot to death two days earlier.

After the killings, Dupras’ friend told detectives that Alan Dupras “might have done something to Jennifer” because the Duprases were going through a “bad” divorce, the documents say.

The friend reported that she was supposed to meet with Jennifer Dupras on the morning of Dec. 11, but Dupras failed to show up. The friend asked the Sheriff’s Office to conduct a welfare check.

The documents say that when deputies did the check, they found Houk dead in a chair in the living room with a gunshot wound to her head. Jennifer Dupras was shot in the head and discovered lying face down in the garage.

Detectives quickly ruled out burglary because the home was in immaculate shape and didn’t appear to be ransacked. Both of the victims’ purses were found intact and there was no sign of forced entry into the home.

In addition, detectives found $1,000 in cash in the home, as well as other valuable items.

“Because deputies initially found the residence to be secured and because there was no evidence of a burglary, investigators concluded that the victims likely knew their attacker(s) and either invited them into the residence or the attacker(s) used a key to enter,” the documents say.

On March 23, detectives returned to the crime scene with a search warrant. They report that the rear door of Houk’s home had been broken open. The interior of the home had been ransacked. “One particular room, the bedroom Jennifer had been using prior to her death, was more heavily searched and dismantled than any other room in the home,” the affidavit says. But several items of value in the home were left alone.

Evidence against Alan Dupras

The documents include an affidavit by sheriff’s detective Bernardo Verbera, who told the court that it is “reasonable and likely” that Alan Dupras was involved in the killings.

Verbera wrote his affidavit to get a warrant to search Alan Dupras’ 2016 Nissan Versa and download data from the car’s GPS device. The result of the download was not included Verbera’s affidavit. But the affidavit says sheriff’s detectives have obtained several search warrants, including one to search Alan Dupras’ home in Kingsburg.

A telephone call to Dupras’ home on Wednesday went to a voice machine that said the device was no longer taking messages.

After the bodies were discovered, detectives interviewed Alan and Jennifer Dupras’ daughter, Alison Dupras, at the crime scene. She had been called there by neighbors.

Alison Dupras told detectives about her parents’ pending divorce and said her mother had left her father in October and moved into her grandmother’s home. “Alison said that it was Jennifer’s decision to leave Alan,” Verbera ‘s affidavit says.

Alison Dupras told detectives that there were incidents of domestic violence that were not reported to law enforcement. “Alison said her father had a ‘really bad attitude’ and that he complained about everything,” the affidavit says.

Alison Dupras, 26, wants action from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, in the homicides of her mother Jennifer Dupras and grandmother Cynthia Houk. She met with Smittcamp to voice her concerns.

Alison Dupras also said her father was verbally abusive toward her mother. She believed her father, prior to the killings, might commit suicide, the affidavit says.

Months after the killings, the Sheriff’s Office released a photograph of a white pickup truck that could be connected to the killings. The affidavit says Dupras had access to a white pickup owned by his father; according to Dupras’ daughter, he also owns a white Chevrolet Colorado pickup.

Search at Kingsburg home

A day after the killings, detectives searched Alan Dupras’ home on Mendocino Avenue in Kingsburg. Alan Dupras and his cousin, Paul Dupras, were at the home during the search. During the search, they noted Paul Dupras’ gray Ford pickup with three loaded guns parked in the driveway.

According to the affidavit, Paul Dupras told detectives he was at home in Tollhouse at the time of the killings. He said his father notified him about the killings.

Paul Dupras told detectives he drove to Alan’s house to be with him and to ensure “Alan didn’t do anything stupid,” the affidavit says.

Paul Dupras said he asked his cousin about the killings, but Alan Dupras claimed no involvement, the affidavit says. Paul Dupras also told detectives he hadn’t been to his brother’s Kingsburg home for months. But on the morning of the killings, a tipster told police a gray pickup was at at Alan Dupras’ home. The tipster reported seeing a man placing rifle cases into the gray pickup. “It has not been determined if this subject was Paul Dupras,” the affidavit says. “However, the vehicle description provided by the caller is similar to Paul’s vehicle.”

Build-up to killing?

Detectives said several suspicious incidents happened before the killings. One incident was a fire reported at Houk’s home on Nov. 22, 2017. Her car was destroyed by fire. But fire investigators believe the car battery caused the fire.

Then on Dec. 4, 2017, a fire broke out at a Fresno building in the 4700 block of North First Street that housed a French club. Jennifer Dupras had been president of the club and director of studies and an active member at the time of her death.

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.

A surveillance video of a pickup matching Alan Dupras’ 2017 Chevrolet Colorado was at the scene of the fire, the affidavit says. The video also showed the driver of the truck starting the fire and leaving, but the driver could not be identified.

Then on Dec. 11, Alan Dupras’ sister, Cheryl, told detectives that she had learned that Alan Dupras had drunkenly bragged to a relative that “he had set Cynthia’s vehicle ablaze and that he had taken steps to hide his fingerprints during the crime,” the affidavit says.

The affidavit says someone who used Alan Dupras’ cell phone went on the internet to learn how to disable the GPS on Dupras’ truck. Dupras’ phone also was used to find out information on the internet about the French club.

Detectives also did surveillance of Alan Dupras and discovered he had borrowed his father’s white Dodge Ram truck a number of times.

From the investigation, detectives believe Jennifer Dupras and her mother were killed around 3:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Surveillance video gathered from a number of places “show a Chevrolet Colorado matching Alan’s vehicle in the area of the murders on Dec. 9, 2017, between 1530 and 1600 hours” (3:30 and 4 p.m.), the affidavit says.

“This intelligence impeaches information provided by Alan during his initial interviews with homicide investigators during which Alan stated he had not traveled through the area of the murders on the weekend of December 9, 2017,” the affidavit says.

The murder weapon and Jennifer Dupras’ cell phone have not been found, but detectives believe they are close to solving the case. “The ongoing investigation into the death of Jennifer Dupras and Cynthia Houk has continued to gain evidence to support Alan’s culpability leading investigators and prosecutors closer to an arrest,” the affidavit says.

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