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 had called incessantly over the weekend, and finally, on that Monday afternoon, Miriam told her husband to "shut the fucking phone off."

He'd been drinking all day, but Miriam was not visited by Mean Drunk Jim — the guy her husband devolved into when he'd had more than enough, the guy who yelled about all the ways she made him unhappy and then demanded she take notes during the berating so that she wouldn't forget.

That night, he was serene. The couple, fans of British mysteries, sat together and watched four episodes of MI-5 in a row. They laughed and commented on the action on screen. It was as if she was visited that night by the man she'd married. The man who nearly made her faint at first sight; the man who had once been so good to her. Those first four or five years they had together — it was the memory of those years that made Miriam stick by him even after he cheated.

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.

Miriam puts it like this: "I hadn't seen Jim in so long...even though I lived with him. And it was just so nice to be with him, and to see him and not have him angry."

While the couple enjoyed one of their first pleasant days in ages, Duplaisir, according to court records, was losing his mind.

Transcripts of texts and e-mails show that the two men spoke that morning and that Duplaisir was now demanding a lump sum: He gave Aune a 3 p.m. deadline to deliver $4,800.

At 9:52, Duplaisir wrote, "Going by the way you talked to me today I have to assume you do plan to not keep your word. [Even] after I gave you a second chance. Call or next call I make will be to a and m."

At 3:05: "3 where are you? Fine you lied enjoy explaining yourself to police and school."

Five hours later: "Just so you know, I know you turned your phone off all day and you intentionally avoid my calls. You caused your original set of problems and we came to a deal to end this. You agreed to to pay for the computer I broke to keep her off the internet and therapy. You were NEVER to talk to my child again. But then you went behind my back and tried to talk to my kid again...So not only did you send a picture of your penis to a KNOWN minor, get the hopes up of a very troubled teen, you also made sure she hated the one person in this life that cares...me the father."

And, "You have until noon tomorrow. If I do not hear from you I swear to God Almighty that the police, your place of employment, students, ALL OVER THE INTERNET...ALL OF THEM will be able to see your conversatons, texts, pictures you sent."

Aune didn't see these messages that night. He was too busy having a good night — a night that, based on the levels of Ultram, phenobarbital and an unknown barbiturate Miriam says were detected in his system, he may have intended to be his last.

If that was his plan, it backfired. Miriam said her husband woke up at 5 a.m., and she fell back asleep. At 9:56 a.m., Duplaisir sent Aune a message that Miriam believes sealed her husband's fate.

"What really pushed Jim over the edge — oh, God, bad metaphor — what pushed him over the edge was [Duplaisir] telling him that he had put something on one of those 'rate your professor' sites," Miriam says.

Duplaisir told Aune to check out the comments students posted on a site called Koofers.com. There, under Aune's name, someone had written, "Taught Karen so much."

It was apparently enough to spook Aune into e-mailing "Karen" one more time. At 10:14 a.m., about 15 minutes before he stepped off the roof, Aune wrote, "I thought you were making this up for blackmail purposes....I still don't have the money, and am not sure when I can get it. Let me check out my options some more."

Fifteen minutes later, Aune told his blackmailer that he would be prosecuted for blackmail. Then he took that final step. Miriam believes her husband's final text was meant for her, not Duplaisir.

"I got my marching orders from Jim," she says, "...because he knew that I would have the kick-ass attitude, that I would say, 'I don't care how damn embarrassing it is, we're getting this guy'...I was the only person he was talking to then."

It's unclear if Aune was already dead by the time Duplaisir, enraged, left this voice mail: "No, this isn't blackmail, motherfucker. I just read the fucking e-mail you just sent. Call. Now. Don't fucking wait around...You started this shit; this is not a scam...enough fucking bullshit — call."

Two electricians working on the garage's lights were walking back to their van to grab some equipment when they heard a thud. Worried that someone had hit their vehicle, they booked the ­final few yards out of the garage and onto the sidewalk. That's where they found Aune, on his back, eyes moving. There was not a speck of blood.

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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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