Forgery prompted firings in case of family killing
The man believed to be responsible for killing his wife, five children and himself had been fired from his hospital job along with his wife for allegedly forging a supervisor's signature on a child-care application, according to Kaiser Permanente officials.
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — The man believed to be responsible for killing his wife, five children and himself had been fired from his hospital job along with his wife for allegedly forging a supervisor's signature on a child-care application, according to Kaiser Permanente officials.
Diana Bonta, vice president for public affairs at Kaiser Permanente, said the couple falsified income records so they could qualify for a child-care program run by Crystal Stairs, a nonprofit child-development agency near the West Los Angeles medical center where they worked.
"They were terminated because in the health-care field, records are an important part of the process and people trust us with their health," she said.
Several police sources familiar with the investigation said Ervin and Ana Lupoe made upward of $40 an hour each in their work as radiological technicians for the hospital. But the couple made it appear they were earning between $7 and $10 an hour, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The disparity was discovered when the child-care agency called Kaiser to inquire about the couple's income. Bonta would say only that Kaiser began an investigation in December after being informed of the alleged fraud.
A day after police discovered the bodies of the seven family members at their Wilmington home, police said they were trying to find out what could have triggered Lupoe to kill.
The couple's financial situation, while pressing in recent months, did not appear by itself to be especially dire. The Lupoes were behind one month in their mortgage, investigators said. They found two bounced checks: one for $15,000, the other for nearly $2,000, according to the law-enforcement sources. Investigators said it did not appear they were behind on their credit cards.
In the past two years, the couple had finished a home remodel that included the master bedroom and bath and new kitchen appliances.
The day before the Tuesday deaths, Lupoe made an 8 a.m. phone call to his brother-in-law, Cesar Ramirez. Lupoe told him he was in the car with his wife and five children and they were on the way to Garden City, Kan.
The next day, Ramirez's phone rang at 6:30 a.m. Ervin Lupoe was on the other end and asked Ramirez to do several favors for him. One included paying his lawyer. Another request was to put the family's possessions into storage. Lupoe also asked Ramirez to mail several letters to relatives, the sources said.
Then came the words that left Ramirez stunned. He said, "Your sister and the kids are dead," a source familiar with the case said.
Lupoe asked Ramirez to leave the keys to the house in one of the family cars so the police wouldn't break down the door. "Then he said 'I'm sorry, I had to do it. We love you, and I'm next.' " Then he hung up, sources said.
Ramirez immediately dialed the emergency operator in Garden City, where he thought the family was headed. Kansas authorities called the Los Angeles Police Department as an emergency call came in from Los Angeles television station KABC reporting it had been faxed a copy of the two-page letter Lupoe had asked Ramirez to mail to relatives.
Lupoe served in the Marines for several years after graduating from high school in Northern California. There was nothing in his military record indicating problems.
After his discharge from the Marines, investigators said he paid his own way through the Rio Hondo Community College law-enforcement academy in a bid to become a police officer. After completing the program, he applied but was rejected from several police agencies.
He became a security guard before becoming an X-ray tech at Kaiser.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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