A&M professor tormented for weeks before jumping to his death

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by Tiffany Craig / KHOU 11 News & KHOU.com staff

kvue.com

Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:37 AM

HOUSTON -- A Louisiana man has been arrested and is accused of using his underage relative to lure a Texas A&M University professor into an online relationship that ended with the professor jumping to his death from a campus parking garage.

Dr. James Aune, 59, who chaired the A&M’s Department of Communications, committed suicide on Jan. 8.

Daniel Duplaisir, 37, was arrested on a charge of using a phone and the Internet to blackmail Aune.

The girl told authorities that Duplaisir took photos and videos of her to use in the scam, and kept a list with the names and phone numbers of men being extorted, according to an affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent Nikki Allen.

The FBI said the girl, who is a minor, said she and Duplaisir created a site on MocoSpace. The age of the girl was not revealed.

She used a fake name, and e-mail address to meet men, get their phone numbers, and send pictures and videos.

Duplaisir would then follow up by calling the men as an outraged father and demanding money to cover the cost of counseling for his daughter.

In his exchanges with the professor, Duplaisir claimed he needed the money to pay for the girl’s therapy.

Text messages from Duplaisir to Aune often included obscenity and threats.

The FBI said Aune, told his wife in December that he was being blackmailed as the result of an online sexual relationship with a minor.

The day before Dr. Aune killed himself, he reportedly got a text that said, "If I do not hear from you I swear to God Almighty that the police in your place of employment, students ALL OVER THE INTERNET ... ALL OF THEM will be able to see your conversations, text, pictures you sent."

On the morning of January 8, Duplaisir allegedly gave Aune three hours to come up with the money.

Just over an hour later, Aune replied in a text saying that he was going to kill himself. According to the FBI, Aune jumped to his death one minute after that text message was sent.

"I think a lot of people were very confused about it." said A&M student Nicole Rice "I guess it just spiraled and got worse."

"That's really surprising to me because I had heard he was a really well-liked professor," said A&M student Debra Borski.

Duplainir is in Louisiana. He’s expected in federal court on Tuesday morning. He's charged with using the phone and internet to extort money.

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