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Wilmington couple was fired for fraud

January 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A Wilmington community remains stunned Wednesday after Los Angeles police found a family dead in a Wilmington home on Tuesday morning.Ervin Lupoe was angry and frustrated, and he wanted the world to know about his workplace grievance. He contacted Eyewitness News and police, but in the days and weeks before the massacre, neighbors said they had no clue about his troubles.

Ervin and Ana Lupoe were fired from their jobs at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center.

They were both X-ray technicians employed at the hospital for the past seven years. They were both fired, according to hospital officials, because they falsified documents.

The Lupoes were applying for subsidized child care through a program that assists low-income families. They allegedly falsified documents and forged others.

"They actually forged the names of individuals as part of that documentation that they were providing to an outside agency," said Diana Bonta, Kaiser Permanente vice president of public affairs. "So we were then forced, as part of good employment practices, to have to terminate their employment. You can understand where a healthcare institution, and having individuals who would falsify records, is not in keeping with our employment practices."

Police found the bodies of the Lupoe family in a two-story home on the 1000 block of McFarland Avenue shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday. Police say they believe the father was distraught over ongoing job problems and killed his wife and their five children before shooting himself.

"They were in separate rooms, the dad and the girls in one room, and the wife and the boys in another room. When the officers came in, they smelled what they believed to be fresh gunshot residue in the air," said LAPD Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner.

A revolver was found next to the father's body.

The Assistant Chief of Investigations for L.A. County Coroner's Office, Ed Winter, confirmed on Tuesday the identities of the deceased as Ervin Lupoe; wife Ana Lupoe; daughter Brittney Lupoe, 8, and twin daughters Jazmin and Jassely Lupoe, 5, and twin sons Benjamin and Christian, 2.

All of them died from gunshot wounds to the head, some with multiple wounds. Authorities said the wife and children died some time overnight, after 4 p.m. Monday, while the father died after contacting ABC7 Tuesday.

Ervin Lupoe was calm as he explained to Eyewitness News what he had done, then said he wanted to fax a letter. ABC7 called police and told them what was happening.

At the same time Eyewitness News notified police, they received a phone call from a man who stated, "'I just returned home and my whole family's been shot."

"There was a call to Communications at the same time, the watch commander at Harbor [Division] received a call from KABC Channel 7; so it was almost simultaneously we got those two calls, and within minutes, a unit was in front of the location and went inside, but unfortunately it was too late," Garner said.

Lupoe's faxed typewritten letter details clashes at work. He said both he and his wife were fired from Kaiser Permanente, and he explained his side of the story.

"My wife and I were being investigated for misrepresentation of our employment to an outside agency for the benefit to ourselves' [sic] childcare ... I was told by my administrator ... that 'You should not even had bothered to come to work today, you should have blown your brains out.' So after a horrendous ordeal, my wife felt it better to end our lives and why leave our children in someone's [sic] else's hands," Lupoe writes in the letter.

At the end of the letter, he left a handwritten message that said, "O my Lord, my God, is there no hope for a widow's son?" Eyewitness News has learned that this is an oath by the Freemasons, a Grand Masonic hailing sign of distress. Any Mason hearing these words is obligated by oath to help.

Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles said in a statement on Tuesday, "We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic deaths of Ervin Lupoe and his wife and family. Our sympathies are with all of their extended family and friends at this time."

Deputy Chief Garner said that the incident is the LAPD's worst fear in these tough times that families will see no other way to deal with the problems that are piling on them.

As for Lupoe's allegation that a Kaiser administrator pushed him to this extreme violence, Kaiser says that exchange never happened.

L.A. Superior Court documents show another side to Lupoe. He was not linked to any criminal case, and he won a modest settlement in a civil case under $10,000, according to Lupoe's attorney Gene Pierce.

Hours before Lupoe pulled the trigger on his own children, he called Pierce to find out if he was still on track to get money from a lawsuit he had won from an automobile accident. Pierce assured him that he was.

Pierce said Lupoe never showed a violent nature.

"Very calm, collected, very nice normal guy. He was a good client, and no, there was no sense of at all that anything like this would have happened," Pierce said.

Court records show Lupoe had been involved in multiple civil cases, many of them dismissed, including a restraining order he sought against a neighbor when the family lived in an apartment complex.

Lupoe claimed the woman struck him, that he feared for his life and he was not able to function in his job as a healthcare provider.

A local church will be holding a prayer vigil on Wednesday night.

A team of counselors were at Crescent Heights Elementary School, where Lupoe's three daughters attended, on Wednesday to answer any questions students and parents may have.

Lupoe had reportedly pulled his daughters out of the school two weeks ago, saying the family was moving to Kansas.

"We are working together to bring some kind of, if you can even think of closure to it," said principal Cherise Pounders-Caver.

Pounders-Caver said there are as many as 10 grief counselors on standby at the school and will be there as long as they are necessary.

Eyewitness News Reporters Miriam Hernandez, Gene Gleeson, Carlos Granda, Leo Stallworth and Sid Garcia contributed to this report.


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