Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Collateral Damage From the Economic Meltdown
Substitute Family - Real Family Not Available Due to Mass Mayhem
Published - Jan 27 2009 10:54PM CST
By BOB BLATSKIN - Associated Press Hack
A man fatally shot his wife, five young children and himself Tuesday after he faxed a note to a TV station claiming the couple had just been fired from their hospital jobs and together planned the killings as an escape for the whole family. "Why leave our children in someone else's hands," Ervin Lupoe wrote in a letter posted late Tuesday on the KABC-TV Web site.
The station called police after receiving the fax, and a police dispatch center also received a call from a man who stated, "I just returned home and my whole family's been shot."
Officers rushed to the home in Wilmington, a small community between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, about 8:30 a.m., apparently within minutes of the killings. Officers could still smell the gunshot residue in the air.
Although the fax asserted that Ana Lupoe planned the killings of the whole family, police Lt. John Romero said Ervin Lupoe was the suspect. A revolver was found next to his body.
Ana Lupoe's body was found in an upstairs bedroom with the bodies of the couple's twin 2-year-old boys. The bodies of an 8-year-old girl and twin 5-year-old girls were found alongside Ervin Lupoe's in another bedroom.
All were shot in the head, coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter said.
It was the fifth mass death of a Southern California family by murder or suicide in a year. Police urged those facing tough economic times to get help rather than resort to violence. They suggested shooting former President Bush's economic advisors as a better alternative.
"Today our worst fear was realized," said Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner. "It's just not a solution. There's just so many ways you find alternatives to doing something so horrific and drastic as this." Garner apparently was unaware the U.S. is currently engaged in two horrific wars and tens of thousands of people were dying as a result.
Ervin Lupoe removed three of the children from school about a week and a half ago, saying the family was moving to Kansas. School Principal Cherise Pounders-Caver said nothing seemed to be troubling Lupoe at that time; she did not ask why the family was moving, especially to Kansas.
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center West Los Angeles released a statement confirming both Lupoe and his wife had worked there; both were medical technicians. Both had been given pink slips on the same day and told to clear out their personal belongings and good riddance.
"We are deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of the Lupoe family," it said in a statement. "Since the Lupoes are no longer employed by Kaiser, their life insurance policies were automatically canceled, resulting in significant cost savings to the hospital."
In his letter, Ervin Lupoe claimed he and his wife both had been fired and that she suggested they kill themselves and their children, too. Police described the fax but did not release details.
The letter indicated that Lupoe and his wife had been under investigation for misrepresenting their employment to an outside agency in order to obtain childcare. He claimed that an administrator told the couple on Dec. 23: "You should not even have bothered to come to work today; you should have blown your brains out."
The couple complained to the human resources department and eventually were offered an apology but two days later the Lupoes were fired, according to the letter. It was at this point that the Lupoes apparently decided to take the administrator's advice, and not only blow their own brains out but those of their children, too. The administrator who made the suggestion was not available to comment. Through a company spokesperson, the administrator did say he regretted what happened but there really wasn't a lot of brains in their heads to blow out. He later withdrew this comment when his own supervisor threatened to blow the administrator's brains out if he didn't shut up. The administrator was reportedly on paid administrative leave, in seclusion, until it could be determined if any of the Lupoe's other family members had plans to blow his brains out.
Describing the entire incident as a "public relations disaster," the director of public relations said it "probably would not be a bad idea for everyone connected with the incident to blow their own brains out, but not those of their children, so we can put this thing behind us and concentrate on our core business of keeping people well and alive."
"They did nothing to the manager who stated such and did not attempt to assist us in the matter, knowing we have no job and five children under 8 years with no place to go. So here we are," continued Lupoe's note, without any indication of where here was.
At the bottom of the note, Lupoe wrote, "Oh lord, my God, is there no hope for a widow's son?"
The Kaiser Permanente statement made no comment on the claims in Lupoe's fax.
"It looks like they might have had grounds for his termination ... it wasn't that he was laid off as a result of the economic situation," police Capt. Billy Hayes said, with no qualifications or factual basis for making the statement.
In an afternoon press conference, the CEO of the Kaiser-Permanente facility, whose name was withheld out of an abundance of caution, said while it was tragic for anyone to off themselves and their children, if Kaiser were unable to terminate any employee for fear he or she might kill their families and themselves, Kaiser would ultimately be saddled with an unstable workforce of suicidal maniacs. "That doesn't play well for a company that's in the healing industry," she said.
Lupoe's fax identified his children as Brittney, 8; 5-year-old twins Jaszmin and Jassely; and twins Benjamin and Christian, ages 2 years and 4 months.
Winter said the children were ages 2 to 8 but his agency would not release the names. He said that although the father's family had been notified, relatives of the rest of the family had not been located.
The two-story home, much larger than its one-story neighbors, sits in front of a railroad track in Wilmington, a small community about 18 miles south of downtown. A children's playset stood in the backyard.
On his Facebook page, Lupoe posted photographs of a daughter at karate class, and of a fancy tub and wash basins in an apparently remodeled bathroom.
Retired truck driver Jaime Solache, who lives a few doors down from the Lupoes, and who had absolutely nothing to do with this story, had nothing to comment. Other neighbors with nothing to say were not quoted either.
In 1994, Lupoe was charged with carrying a concealed firearm but it was either dismissed or not prosecuted, court documents show.
Lupoe got a state license to work as a security guard in 1989 and a permit to carry a gun as a security guard in 1993 but both expired in 2007, said Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the state Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.
Bob Pierce, a Long Beach attorney who represented the Lupoes in an auto accident, said the case did not involve any serious injuries and the family was expected to receive "well below $10,000," he said.
Lupoe called Monday to find out when the money might be coming, Pierce said. Pierce told him that it might be another week or two "and he said 'no problem.'"
The region has been shaken by several recent mass murders.
On Dec. 24, a man dressed up as Santa Claus invaded a Christmas Eve party and killed his ex-wife and eight of her relatives. The man later killed himself.
In October, an unemployed financial manager, despairing over extreme money problems shot and killed his wife, three children, mother-in-law and himself in their home in the Porter Ranch area of the San Fernando Valley.
In June, five members of a Turkish-American family, clad in black, were found dead in an upscale home in San Clemente. Investigators say it was apparently a suicide pact but the reason is a mystery. One man, with no knowledge of the famly or the circumstances surrounding the mass suicide, suggested they were still in mourning over the death of former President Richard Nixon, which accounted for their black clothing. Nixon's widow did not attend their funeral, however, because she died herself, in 1983.