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Police Renew Inquiry Into Woman's Death : Crime: Originally called an accident or suicide, the death of Marianne Tupac is now being considered a homicide.


WESTWOOD — Police have renewed their investigation into the Feb. 13, 1991, death of a Westwood woman who was first thought to have drowned in her bathtub, The Times has learned.

Originally classified as a suicide or an accident, the death of Marianne Tupac, 36, has now been ruled a homicide, according to a supplemental autopsy report issued by a deputy medical examiner for the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Citing that ruling, Los Angeles Police Detective Lee Kingsford obtained a warrant to search the home and office of dentist Robert G. Tupac, Marianne's husband of 13 years.

The circumstances of the death, Kingsford wrote in requesting the warrant, "are such as to cause me to believe that Marianne Tupac did not drown in the bathtub as her husband would have us believe."

In the request, the detective laid out his reasons for digging further:

Friends and relatives said that Marianne Tupac was in good spirits and looking forward to spending Valentine's Day with her two young boys. She had bought and wrapped presents for them.

Robert Tupac did not try to remove the body or drain the bathtub. Instead, he summoned a neighbor, Mark McGowan, a medical doctor, who told police that he helped Tupac pull the body out and lay it on the floor.

It was then that a futile attempt was made to resuscitate Marianne Tupac, and McGowan told Tupac to call 911.

Despite the dentist's professional training, Kingsford wrote, "(he) had done nothing toward attempting to save his wife from what he would have us believe is a drowning."

After the search was carried out at Tupac's home on Glenroy Avenue and his dental office on Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills, the results were ordered sealed by Municipal Court Judge Richard G. Berry. "It's a complex situation," Berry said.

Tupac, 43, is a prosthodontist--a specialist in the replacement of missing teeth.

On Thursday, prosecutors summoned him and his new wife, Tierney Bocek, 34, who has been his office manager since 1989, to tell a grand jury what they know about the case. Tupac and Bocek were married last month. But Tupac's appearance was canceled after he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, prosecutors said.

Bocek also declined to speak to the grand jury, claiming a wife's privilege not to testify against her husband. Prosecutors asked Superior Court Judge J. D. Smith to require her to testify, but he reserved his ruling until later this week.

Both Tupac and Bocek have declined to talk to the police since they were interviewed shortly after the death of Marianne Tupac, Kingsford said, adding that he hopes that friends or neighbors might come forward with additional information regarding the death.

When officers spoke with Tupac shortly after Marianne's death, he denied having an affair with Bocek, a suspicion that was raised by the dead woman's relatives, Kingsford said. Bocek, too, told him that her relationship with Tupac was strictly business, the detective said.

Asked by The Times to discuss the death, Tupac said: "I would prefer not to talk to you," then broke the telephone connection. His attorney could not be reached for comment. Bocek's attorney, Richard Kirschner, declined to say anything about the case.

Tupac's account of what happened on the night of Feb. 13, 1991, is contained in reports by police officers and a coroner's investigator who were at the scene.

According to the reports, Tupac told them that his wife could not sleep after they went to bed about 9:40 that night.

Instead, she got up to take a bath, he said, and when he arose shortly before midnight, he found her lifeless body in the glass-enclosed, blue-tiled tub.

With a bottle of Halcion sleeping tablets standing empty in the nearby medicine cabinet, "he surmised . . . that she had overdosed on those pills and that the death was a suicide," a police report said.

According to the coroner's investigator, Tupac said his wife was unhappy because of financial problems and the theft of computer equipment from her business, which she had recently bought with a $50,000 loan from her mother. Tupac also said that she spoke of suicide three weeks before.

Mag Frieberg, Marianne Tupac's brother, said his sister had been in good spirits when they spoke a few days before she died, and he heard nothing to make him suspect she might be contemplating suicide. Frieberg said she had been looking forward to his family's arrival for a visit that had been planned for the next day.

A half-empty glass of gin and tonic was found in the house, but pathologists found no sign of alcohol, 20 nanograms of Halcion in her blood and only a fifth of one .25-milligram Halcion tablet in her stomach--hardly enough to make her drowsy, let alone allow her to drown in her sleep. The coroner's supplementary report took special note of petechial hemorrhages--pinpoint ruptures--in Marianne Tupac's right eye, which had been noted without comment by the pathologist who conducted the initial autopsy months earlier.

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