Zupan charged with wife’s murder
Police arrested Frank A. Zupan late Wednesday on suspicion of murdering his wife, Shauneen A. Zupan, last year.
Ten investigators of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office staked out Zupan’s residence on Retrac Way for hours Wednesday afternoon, waiting for the man to leave his house.
Zupan left in his vehicle at 6:20 p.m. Officials stopped him and took him into custody without incident, Sheriff Keith Royal said. He was booked into Wayne Brown Correctional Facility without bail.
“We had been waiting for specific evidence to be processed at the state crime lab in Sacramento,” Royal said. “Now we’ve received the results that tied the case together for us.”
Royal praised his staff and more than 20 search and rescue volunteers, who combed the area along McCourtney between Patterson Valley and Indian Springs roads where the shooting took place on Nov. 15, 2005.
“Because of their thorough search of the area that was in question, we came up with items of physical evidence that played a large part in this investigation,” Royal said.
In addition, forensic experts from the California Department of Justice crime laboratory came to Nevada County in late November to examine Zupan’s Chrysler LX minivan. They took seats and a door for further examination at their Sacramento lab.
Their work involved analysis of glass, gunshot residue and DNA found in blood and other human sources, Royal said.
Evidence so far does not include the murder weapon, which investigators still seek. However, Royal said there is sufficient evidence without it to press charges. Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson is expected to file charges against Zupan in county Superior Court today, Royal said.
The case so far is “based on inconsistencies of (Zupan’s) statements with physical evidence collected at the scene,” Royal said.
Investigators waited for Zupan to leave the residence before arresting him because he has a history of having weapons at the house, Royal said. Zupan was arrested in 2002 on a firearms violation, though no charges were filed and the weapon was returned to him.
Zupan also pleaded no contest to two felony counts of receiving stolen property in 2001.
Shauneen Zupan, 58, was found in the couple’s minivan on McCourtney at Indian Springs roads, near their home. Frank Zupan used a cellular telephone to call 911, where the incident was treated as a vehicle accident occurring at about 8 p.m.
After she was in a helicopter and on her way to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, emergency responders found she had two gunshot wounds to the left side of the head. Medical examiners later found two bullets in her head and two gunshot wounds to the right hand and wrist.
Frank Zupan, 60, told officers on the ground that his wife had been driving the minivan when another vehicle approached with its high beams on. He told them the driver side window was broken out and he heard objects hitting the van. His wife slumped over the steering wheel, he grabbed the wheel and piloted the vehicle to a controlled crash at some rocks at the intersection.
Someone then gave Zupan a ride home, where he got another vehicle and drove to the hospital in Roseville. Shauneen Zupan was declared dead at the Sutter Roseville Trauma Center.
Despite his explanations, Frank Zupan had been considered a “person of interest” by investigators since shortly after the shooting.
Nevertheless, Zupan took out a paid advertisement in The Union on Dec. 8, 2005, offering a $25,000 reward “for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for her death.”
“Investigators now believe Zupan shot his wife several times, then feigned the crash,” Royal said in a prepared statement.
Shauneen Zupan’s sons, Adam and Dirk McMeans, broke with Zupan shortly after the shooting, despite having spent some years growing up with Zupan and his children from another marriage.
Zupan and the McMeans then became involved in a lawsuit over who would administer Shauneen Zupan’s estate. A probate hearing to decide the issue is scheduled for Friday in Superior Court. It had been expected that Zupan’s arrest would decide that issue.
Co-workers of Shauneen Zupan told The Union that she had been troubled in the week before the shooting by the discovery that her husband had been seeing another woman. They also said it was unusual for the woman to drive a car.
Other co-workers had said she had discussed having marital problems at least a year before the shooting. Investigators interviewed several of the victim’s friends as part of their case work.
Shauneen Zupan was Frank Zupan’s third wife.
Zupan’s second wife, Linda Lee Zupan, disappeared in November 1981 after a night of bar-hopping in Niles, near the couple’s Newark home. Her bones were found nearly a year later in a pasture near Interstate 580; the bones showed evidence of a stab wound. A man was charged with her murder, but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence, and the man later died.
Frank Zupan, who had left for Hawaii with a girlfriend earlier in the day his wife disappeared, was never implicated in that case.
However, Capt. John Huber, an investigator with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, said he has been reviewing the Linda Zupan case to see if there may be a fresh approach to it.
To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4231.
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