Deadly Charades: Double Lives, Extortion and the Suicide of a Respected Professor

A respected A&M prof with secrets to hide commits suicide and implicates his alleged blackmailer in a case where no one was really who he or she seemed to be.

Duplaisir, who denied the accusations, spent three months in jail. Then, in February 2012, citing lack of evidence, the 21st Judicial District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute.

Lisa told the Press via Facebook that the charges were dropped because she ran away.

"I didnt want to see him and face him again. It is just [too] hard," she wrote.

Before jumping to his death, A&M professor Jim Aune warned his alleged blackmailer that he would be prosecuted.
Courtesy of Miriam Aune
Before jumping to his death, A&M professor Jim Aune warned his alleged blackmailer that he would be prosecuted.
Miriam Aune says she told her husband that he was being scammed, but he didn't believe her.
Miriam Aune says she told her husband that he was being scammed, but he didn't believe her.

Months later, when Lisa ran away again, Duplaisir contacted her Facebook friends (from his Daniel Duplaisir profile) asking if they'd seen her. He claimed that she'd been brainwashed by her aunt, the woman who'd raised her. He said she felt betrayed and abandoned.

"I never stopped looking for her when I lost her when she was 9 months old," Duplaisir wrote. "I never seen her again till she 14. Things were great but her Aunt kept screwing with her mind, making her think she was going to be abandoned. Ever since she ran away I been searching again."

He wrote Lisa's friend that his daughter "should have just told those people what she said about me was a lie and we could have gotten past it all. I would have never ditched her...she is my lil demonic angel."

At the same time he was allegedly blackmailing Aune, he was chatting frequently with Lisa's mother. Although Duplaisir would later write Judge Hughes about a government conspiracy against him, there is no trace of paranoia in these chats, which are often lighthearted and flirtatious. When Lisa's mother asks if he's going to watch the New Orleans Saints game, he says he doesn't watch sports — "i like frisbee and sex with u...great sports."

The chats continue afterAune's death. Duplaisir also updated his other profile; six days after Aune killed himself, Duplaisir posted a photo of a living room on the Danielle Mosvoni page.

"This room use to be yellow with stained wood trim," he commented as Mosvoni.

A month and a half after Aune's death, one of the biggest things on Duplaisir's mind was his frustrating lack of undergarments: "I just realize I have no black bras," he posted on the Mosvoni page. "WTF...I use to always have some, didn't even realized my choices have changed like that."
_____________________

Miriam Aune had to bite her tongue all through her husband's January ­memorial.

She says investigators asked her not to tell anyone about the extortion — a rather unnecessary request, since she wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to tell everyone that her scholar husband, the well-respected head of the communications department, had sent a dick pic to what he thought was a 16-year-old girl.

According to Miriam, Aune put a premium on image. On campus, he was known for his brilliance and for his generosity toward struggling graduate students. The Aunes' door was always open, and on more than one occasion, they lent money to students who were short on rent. As one speaker after another attested to Aune's keen mind and big heart, Miriam just thought about the slap to the face they were in for.

"That was kind of my job in his life...to keep him from embarrassment at all costs and to fix things," Miriam says. "And his job was to do his job and make money because of the kids."

A Minnesota native, Aune earned a bachelor's at St. Olaf College and his PhD at Northwestern. He'd been at A&M since 1996 and assumed the title of department head in 2011. He won prestigious educators' awards; published essays in journals with titles like Philosophy & Rhetoric; and had written books examining the rhetoric of Marxism and of American presidents.

He and Miriam, his third wife (who also holds a PhD), raised two autistic boys with severe intellectual disabilities. Even with Miriam staying home, the boys required specialized in-home care. It cost a fortune — Miriam likens it to paying college tuition for the rest of their lives.

Miriam knew just how much everything cost. She was in charge of the couple's finances. And that's how her husband came to tell her, a week before he took his life, that he needed $1,500.

By that time, Miriam says, Aune had been "dying in increments." He was self-destructing in a haze of beer and pills. He'd struggled with addiction before meeting Miriam but had been clean for years.

But he fell off the wagon in 2007, when he began to suffer from impotence — something that turned out to be a symptom of prostate cancer. He took Viagra twice, and because there was no immediate result, he gave up.

Depressed, he relapsed and pilfered the Ultram Miriam had been prescribed for chronic pain. When she noticed the sudden shortage of pills, Aune blamed it on the kids, then on the home aides. Then he moved on to the phenobarbital prescribed for their dog, Buffy, for seizures. However, he was considerate enough to honor Miriam's prohibition of alcohol inside the home: Aune drank in the driveway, with beer stashed in his car's trunk or their home's downspouts.

After Aune died, Miriam also discovered he'd been drinking at work. Cleaning out his office, she found empty beer cans stuffed in his desk drawers and filing cabinets, behind books, in any possible hiding spot. Maybe 300 cans.

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26 comments
alchemicalflower
alchemicalflower

I couldn't keep myself from commenting on this article because I am the tranny that Jim had an affair with. He actually told me about this blackmailing business shortly before he killed himself. Jim visited me in austin around 2007 but I had been chatting with him for ages. I believe I first met him in 2004 or so when I was about 22 years old. it took him forever to tell me he had two autistic kids and claimed that Miriam was his ex wife and had multiple personality disorder. 

Jim thought he had lost his sex drive forever after he got the prostate cancer operation, so around that time he decided he was done with me. I'm convinced there was no one with whom Jim was fully honest, and while this blackmail shenenigan was the straw that broke the camel's back, there were many more underlying issues. Jim was extremely depressed, avoidant and a liar to the core. To say he was not a happy man is a tremendous understatement. Its like he didn't want to believe he was the victim of a scam so that he could do what he had probably contemplated many times before.

I found out he committed suicide about an hour ago, and I still don't even know how I feel about it. my first reaction was not grief but rather an inexplicable sense of dissociation from reality.

I have several conversations with Jim archived in my email. I feel compelled to read every email exchange I ever had with him and to think about it in this new light that his suicide has shone. 

rachael.kilgore
rachael.kilgore

Being transgendered myself, I read the article with a certain sadness.  TG or not, there is no excuse for Duplaisir's actions.  It is really sad that most news about TGs is negative.  Please understand that wearing women's clothing doesn't make a man anymore of a criminal than it does a woman, well not anymore since the laws have changed.

warrenmart
warrenmart

Doesn't seem like there are any innocent victims in this--would-be pedophiles I can find no sympathy for,  if anything "blackmailera' is doing a good service bringing these freaks out in the open.

Meredith Rogers
Meredith Rogers

I had Aune as a professor and it pains me to see this story progress.

Angie
Angie

If Duplaisir was living with "lisa's" relatives, how did she come to "live with him off and on?" 

I guess there was one last text you didn't want, or Miriam didn't want to disclose? That wasn't very clear.

Do you realize you mention at the beginning that he died at the hospital later that day, and at the end of the article, you say he died 40 minutes later?

These were things I didn't quite understand.  I hope Miriam recovers from this painful experience...

red.marcy.rand
red.marcy.rand topcommenter

He should have killed the blackmailer, not himself.

Frankly I couldn't read beyond the first page. I love Ayn Rand heroes, not homosexual zeroes.

addaddiesfacebook
addaddiesfacebook

Again the Houston Press just loves to Kill Trees with these long overdrawn articles about subjects that really don't mean a whole lot to the average busy Houstonian.

Ok I grabbed a typical article from the Atlantic  - 1200 words

 Your "Charades" article ran 4600 word, which is  to the length of a maxed scientific research paper.

Melanie Pena
Melanie Pena

Wow. Unbelievable. Well written through all the twists.

Danielle Stillman-Diederich
Danielle Stillman-Diederich

This article was really confusing because the term you need to use is "transgender woman" for MTF trans people. If the professor was looking for transgender men he would be talking to FTM trans people (women making a transition to male). This is in sore need of a correction.

Richard Tew
Richard Tew

Both of these guys are sick and deserve everything they get both here and the hereafter.

Bren Ke
Bren Ke

Oh my goodness! You went and committed Journalism again! :)

Basawat
Basawat

@warrenmart Or rather, people who are willing to go with people under the age of consent - Although a man who is attracted to adult women but chooses to go under the age of consent deliberately to get "inexperienced" and "pliant" teenage girls is quite despicable.


If such a man truly loved a girl that young they would wait until she turned 17 (state age of consent)


However, why would a supposed teenage girl hang out on gay.com (so maybe the professor was expecting somebody else other than who the person said she was?)? There may be more to this story?

Basawat
Basawat

@red.marcy.rand He may have been unable to access the blackmailer, and/or felt that killing the blackmailer would make him a victim

Basawat
Basawat

@Richard Tew The prof should have gotten treatment. He definitely had issues, but the blackmailer's decision to blackmail makes him way worse

 
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