Police Still Seeking a Suspect in the Stabbing Death of Two Davis Residents

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It has been a week since the community learned of the brutal stabbing deaths of 87-year-old former defense attorney Oliver Northup and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, in South Davis, and authorities say that while they are getting help from the state and the federal government investigators, they have few new leads in the case.

“Nothing new really [to report],” Davis Police Lt. Paul Doroshov told the Vanguard on Sunday.  “We’re doing it with the assistance of agencies, like the FBI has been a huge help to us.  The California Department of Justice has been a big help.”

Other jurisdictions have rotated detectives to help Davis, as well.  Davis remains the lead agency and the other agencies are providing a lot of technical support.

According to police reports, at 9:20 pm last Sunday, the Davis Police were called in by the daughter of the victims to do a welfare check after the couple failed to show up at church earlier in the day.  The police determined at that point that they needed to make an entry and found the two victims deceased.

Police said it was a very bloody scene and there were signs of forced entry into the home.

The coroner released a statement last Tuesday that the cause of death was multiple stab wounds for both victims, and he determined that the manner of death was homicide.

“At this point it’s still a wide open investigation,” Lt. Doroshov told the Vanguard a week later.  At this point, the police do not know the motive – whether it was a burglary that went awry or whether there was a more personal motive.  “We’re not really taking anything off the table in terms of a theory of what happened there.”

Lt. Doroshov called the case a “whodunit,” and suggested that in such cases it is important to keep open the possibilities for motivation for the crime.

“We’ve got a lot of leads and we’re exploring them all,” he said.  He added that these types of cases tend to take a lot of time to analyze the evidence and search for clues.  People, he said, get a false impression when they watch shows like CSI with their rapid results.

On Wednesday of last week, the Davis Police Department Investigations Unit set up a special tip line for the case.

“Anyone with any information about this incident is encouraged to call 530-747-5439 and leave a message along with a contact number,” a press release stated. “Any urgent or emergency information should still be reported by calling our dispatch center at (530)758-3600.”

Lt. Doroshov said such lines are “always helpful because you never know what you’re going to get.  You never know who’s going to call in with something they may think is not that significant but really turns out to have great significance in the scheme of things.”

“Obviously we haven’t gotten anything off there that has generated an arrest,” he added.  “But it’s always helpful to have as much information as we possibly can.”

As we noted, the police were called in and made entry at 9:20 pm on Sunday night after relatives had become concerned when the couple did not show up earlier that day for church.

Beyond that, however, the police have yet to establish a timeframe for when the death may have occurred.  Lt. Doroshov was not even able to say whether the death occurred on Sunday.

He said he did not know what kind of protocol the coroner’s office went through to determine the time of death.  He was also unaware as to when the last known contact occurred between the victims and someone else, which might help narrow down the time of death.

The Davis Police Department is currently investigating the two deaths as homicides. Investigators from the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, Yolo County Coroner’s Office, West Sacramento Police Department, California Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations are assisting in this case.

In addition to the recent murder, Davis had the rash of burglaries and a number of high-profile assault cases, including the allegedly hate-motivated attack on Mikey Partida, a young woman who was forced back into her home and sexually assaulted, and another young woman accosted on the street.

The police have consistently warned the public, “The Davis Police Department continues to urge people to take these preventative measures to lessen the chances of being victimized: Make sure all windows, doors, garages, side gates, etc. are closed and locked when not in use. It is also suggested, keeping doors locked when you are home.”

They wrote: “This point has been repeated many times before, but DPD continues to see a high number of unlocked entry points among our residential burglaries.”

The police added, “Report any suspicious activity such as persons walking or driving up and down your street, checking for unlocked doors and/or looking in windows, backyards or vehicles. Vehicles ‘cruising’ your neighborhood at very slow speeds or sitting in a vehicle for extended periods can also be signs of suspicious activity.”

“Homicides are a rarity in Davis. We understand the violent nature of this crime is a shock to our community. We will be fielding extra patrol officers as a preventative measure. At this point, a motive has not been established,” the release said.

The last murder in Davis was the murder of 42-year-old Kevin Seery which happened in the College Square Apartments on J Street on October 1, 2011.

Mr. Mings is on trial for that murder and the case is expected to resume in July after some delays.

That victim was reportedly suffering from a number of ailments which included diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, chronic hepatitis and pneumonia at the time of his death.  He stood at 6-1 but weighed just 133 pounds.

Mr. Mings confessed to the killing, turning himself in and claiming that Mr. Seery had asked him to kill him.

Mr. Mings put Mr. Seery in a choke hold and then stuffed a variety of items into his throat, preventing Mr. Seery from breathing.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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12 thoughts on “Police Still Seeking a Suspect in the Stabbing Death of Two Davis Residents”

  1. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”(Lt. Doroshov) added that these types of cases tend to take a lot of time to analyze the evidence and search for clues. People, he said, get a false impression when they watch shows like CSI with their rapid results.”[/i]

    A more accurate impression can be had watching the murder investigation show, The First 48 on A&E. One thing you learn watching that show is that some murders go unsolved. That might be the case here. The big lesson, however, is that if the police don’t get a solid lead in the first 48 hours after they are called to a murder scene, their chances of solving it are small.

    It’s not unlikely that the DPD already has some solid leads–perhaps some forensic evidence which will point them to the killers soon enough. If they have that kind of thing, they wouldn’t make it public. So, just because Lt. Doroshov implies they don’t have a clue yet doesn’t mean that.

    But if he is being completely forthright, then this investigation is going very badly and the chances are growing that the murderers will not be caught–at least not caught for this particular crime.

    What might be at play, if this was a “burglarly gone bad,” is a later discovery of items missing from the Maupin/Northup home which lead the police back to the murderers.

    One last lesson from The First 48: A surprisingly high percentage of suspects confess in murder cases where the original intent was robbery. Very often one suspect who was only along for a robbery or a burglary will admit that his partner in crime killed the victims. His thinking is that this will get him a lesser charge, certainly not murder. However, in every U.S. state, this is a mistake. It’s called capital murder, when you are involved in a felonious act, and anyone gets killed.

  2. Draven

    I doubt the stabbing death of 2 people is robbery related unless the victims had something of incredibile value in the home, and if that was the case it would have already came out so the public/info sources would be alerted to look for it. If your in a house to steal, you know to run rather than turn a B&E into a capitol offense. My guess payback for someone who “took the deal” and ended up getting rail roaded and had a very bad time in prison…. Also anytime Hep. is involved you have to ask yourself, were drugs responsible? Hep can lead to all kinds of other health problems. How was it contracted? All I can say about this case is thank God Davis P.D. is getting outside help cause for the amount of officers that Davis has and the amount of crimes that go unsolved in Davis they need all the help they can get. If as much time and money was spent trying to prevent or solve crimes as is spent on traffic Cameras, speed traps and speed limits set at 19-70s levels to generate funds and Bicycle light enforcment… They would be near perfect I would think….Maybe fewer traffic guys and more detecivies/ investigators would be a good start. Just a thought.

  3. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”Also anytime Hep. is involved you have to ask yourself, were drugs responsible? Hep can lead to all kinds of other health problems. How was it contracted?”[/i]

    Hepatitis had nothing to do with this case. That was mentioned regarding a solved murder case in Davis from 2 years ago.

    [i]”My guess payback for someone who ‘took the deal’ and ended up getting rail roaded and had a very bad time in prison ….”[/i]

    Your theory is that the killer was a client of Mr. Northrup’s law practice? You do know that he was not a criminal defense attorney. Something like 60 years ago, for a short time, he was a prosecutor. But he practiced civil law for all the rest of his active career: [quote]He joined with three other attorneys in forming Rodegerdts, Means, Northup & Estey, a civil law firm in downtown Woodland. According to his daughter, Northup specialized in “country lawyer” work such as drawing up land agreements for local farmers.[/quote] That does not seem to fit your theory.

    It is true that he met with prisoners after he had retired, when he helped out with criminal appeals. But that also would not fit your theory of a “take the deal” anger case. [quote] Even after retiring from the practice in the early 1990s, Northup continued taking on criminal appellate defense work for the California Appellate Project, representing prison inmates who believed their cases deserved a second look.[/quote]

  4. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”the first 48 is [b]probably[/b] flawed as well.”[/i]

    Sounds like you have probably never watched it. You do understand that it is not a drama? It simply follows homicide investigators on real cases.

    What amazes me is how many murders there are in places like Miami and Dallas. The show has been all over the country, though I don’t think ever in a California city. More recently a lot of cases from Cleveland, Louiville and the Houston region.

  5. Growth Izzue

    [quote]What amazes me is how many murders there are in places like Miami and Dallas. [/quote]

    Miami doesn’t surprise me, that’s where Dexter lives.

  6. Davis Progressive

    the reason those cities appear to have so many murders is that A&E only has a contract with nine cities. It’s a controversy because many believe that the broadcasts focusing on nine cities creates a distorted perception about the amount of crime in those areas – which tend to also be minority areas.

  7. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”the reason those cities appear to have so many murders is that A&E only has a contract with nine cities.”[/i]

    Miami, Memphis, Charlotte, Detroit, Cleveland, Phoenix, Dallas, Louisville, and unincorporated Houston are the 9. There is no controversy. The show does not make up the murders that take place in those places. Most of them just have a lot of murders to cover.

    [i]”It’s a controversy because many believe that the broadcasts focusing on nine cities creates a distorted perception about the amount of crime in those areas – which tend to also be minority areas.”[/i]

    You do know that the murder rate for certain minority groups–really blacks and Hispanics–are very, very high. Other minoritie–say Asians or Lebanese Americans or people of Swiss heritage–have very low murder and violent crime rates. So it is not a real controversy to show murder investigations if the killers (and usually the victims) are blacks or Hispanics. That is the sad reality of those places and those violent cultures. But that said, there are plenty of white killers and victims on these shows. They have even caught some female murderers, which is, on the whole, rare.

  8. Davis Progressive

    “The show does not make up the murders that take place in those places. “

    you’re incorrec t that there’s no controversy. they don’t make it up, but let’s suppose you have 12 shows a year and five of them are on one city, you might think that city has a lot of murders, but you have no idea whether this represents all murders or 1% of all murders in a given location. also the choice for setting is dictated by permission rather than number of crimes, so it might be that they cover a place not because they have a lot of murders, but because the city is willing to allow A&E to have intimate access to investigators and even witnesses.

  9. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”you’re incorrec t that there’s no controversy.”[/i]

    There is no REAL controversy. What you are talking about is a fake controversy among ideologues who see everything through their distorted prism. No one with a lick of common sense would think this is any controversy at all.

    The sad reality is that more than half of all murder victims are blacks, almost all killed by blacks, despite their only being 13% of the US population.

    The controversy should not be covering these cases on a TV show. The controversy should be the violent culture and total disregard for innocent human life which results in these crimes.

  10. Davis Progressive

    it’s funny you talk about ideologues but you react with some strange knee jerk reflex every time a racial issue comes up. nevertheless my point wasn’t about race but amount of crime in a given city is distorted.

  11. SouthofDavis

    Davis Progressive wrote:

    > my point wasn’t about race but amount of crime
    > in a given city is distorted.

    If you didn’t want to bring race in to the discussion why did you write:

    > which tend to also be minority areas…

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