The paroled murderer of the owner of a famous, long-lived Texas Gulf Coast beer joint is dead, apparently at his own hand after killing his girlfriend in their Victoria apartment.
51-year-old Bennie Ray Dupnik Jr. and 44-year-old Sandra Rivera were discovered by Rivera's sons. Rivera had been stabbed to death, and Dupnik reportedly slit his wrists. The two had been dating off and on for less than eight weeks. Her family believes that Rivera was on the verge of leaving Dupnik for good.
In 2010, Dupnik was paroled after serving more than 30 years of a life sentence for the May 25, 1978, slaying of 72-year-old Gladys "Shorty" Fowler, founding owner of Port Aransas's now 66-year-old dockside dive Shorty's Place.
Alone in the bar with Fowler early in the evening, Dupnik, then a 16-year-old deckhand, picked up a pool cue and beat the tiny woman to death. After helping himself to the till, Dupnik drove off in Fowler's brown Ford LTD but was arrested 45 minutes after the killing.
Dupnik was tried as an adult and convicted of capital murder. In those days, there was no "life without parole" option, so Dupnik's case came up for review six times, beginning in 1998, after he had served 20 years. The Parole Board denied him five times. On the sixth, in 2010, they granted his wish by a 7-0 vote.
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Shorty's "Oldest and Friendliest" Place is still open on Tarpon Street and remains in Fowler's family. Today, it is owned by Fowler's granddaughter, Joy George, who spoke to the Victoria Advocate about Dupnik. "I really do have a real grief for the family in Victoria that is having to go without their mother, sister, grandmother, relative," she said. "That they had to suffer from the same man - that is just unforgivable by the parole board. They are to blame for that one." (George publicly campaigned against Dupnik's release in 2007. She has said she was unaware of Dupnik's 2010 hearing.)