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Friday, August 31, 2012

Hugues de La Plaza: DNA Evidence Indicates Lethal Attack, Claims Slain Man's Father

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Another twist in the troubling case of Hugues de la Plaza - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • Another twist in the troubling case of Hugues de la Plaza

Five years after Hugues de la Plaza was found dead in his Hayes Valley apartment with three gaping stab wounds, the slain man's father said the San Francisco Police Department has very little to tell him. But François de la Plaza had a little news of his own for the SFPD.

The elder de la Plaza this week traveled from his native Brittany to meet with police officials here. His only child's 2007 death became an international affair after San Francisco police advanced a theory that the 36-year-old French dual citizen stabbed himself three times before either cleaning the knife in his dying moments or tossing it out the window or otherwise stowing it in a place it has never since been located.

François de la Plaza last traveled to San Francisco in 2009, when he told SF Weekly "it is almost complicity from the police to keep saying this is a suicide." In the interregnum between his meetings with the SFPD, he now tells us, French police have made a potentially huge discovery: The crushed watch on Hugues de la Plaza's right wrist revealed traces of another person's DNA.

Speaking through a translator, de la Plaza told SF Weekly that French investigators believe Hugues was attacked outside his apartment -- where blood was discovered -- and his watch was damaged while he unsuccessfully attempted to fend off his assailant. French police think de la Plaza stumbled back into his apartment after the encounter and died there.

François de la Plaza's patience is wearing thin - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • François de la Plaza's patience is wearing thin
Joe Eskenazi
François de la Plaza's patience is wearing thin
The revelation that the DNA on de la Plaza's watch emanated from someone else is yet another blow against the SFPD's suicide theory. Disgusted by San Francisco authorities' refusal to classify the death as a homicide, François and Mireille de la Plaza filed a complaint in France, which led to French police being sent here to investigate. In a humiliating development for San Francisco, a federal judge sided with the French and allowed them to cart all of the evidence in the case back to Paris. There, French officials ruled that de la Plaza's death was "100 percent homicide." 

An independent analysis of the evidence by former San Francisco medical examiner Dr. Michael Ferenc, commissioned by the SFPD, also concluded unambiguously that de la Plaza was murdered. This report, disturbingly, was sat on by the police for more than seven months.

François de la Plaza has said all along, however, his goal isn't to punish the SFPD, but compel them to work with him. "The SFPD may not have done their job well, but we are not trying to get back at them. They can still help us toward our objective of finding the murderer," he said in 2009. "According to the French police, there is still a lot to do. There is still a lot of analysis they can do and a lot of leads to follow up."

Today, he told SF Weekly that the SFPD indicated to him that they will finally be mounting their own investigation and analysis of the DNA evidence. "But," he added, "it's a little late."

The police this week told us that de la Plaza's case is still not categorized as a homicide but a "suspicious death."

That is an understatement.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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