Police find the family shot to death at their home in the Wilmington neighborhood. The couple had recently been fired from a Kaiser hospital after a misconduct probe, sources say. Watching his family's new, two-story home being built in 2001, Ervin Antonio Lupoe appeared to be riding a wave of hope and excitement. He dropped by each week to check the progress, one construction worker recalled.
But in what authorities believe was a gruesome burst of anger after he and his wife lost their jobs, the burly 40-year-old X-ray technician turned that same Wilmington home into a family tomb, officials said Tuesday.
Early Tuesday, Lupoe faxed a bitter, rambling two-page letter to a local television station blaming his employer for his actions. Though his wife and children were already dead, he also called the station threatening to kill his family, investigators believe. He followed this up with an incongruous call to police saying that he had returned home and that “my whole family has been shot.”
Before police and firefighters arrived, he turned the weapon on himself, authorities believe.
Amid record job losses and economic distress for millions of families, the killings struck a chord.
“This was a financial- and job-related issue that led to the slayings,” said Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Kenneth Garner. “It's a grisly scene.”
But evidence was emerging Tuesday evening that the couple had been fired after an investigation into misconduct and had not been laid off as part of cost-cutting.
Kaiser Permanente confirmed in a statement that Lupoe and his wife, Ana, were recently terminated from employment at the health network's West Los Angeles Medical Center. Hospital officials declined to provide details, saying only that they were cooperating with investigators and “deeply saddened' by the deaths.
The letter received at KABC-TV shortly after 8 a.m. said Lupoe and his wife had made a suicide pact. It referred to an investigation into employment misrepresentation in connection with a child care issue. (The probe involved allegations of fraud, according to sources familiar with the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry was ongoing.)
“So after a horrendous ordeal,” the letter said, “my wife felt it better to end our lives, and why leave our children in someone's else's hands. . . .”