Each week, a group of Davis police detectives sits down to chart their progress in the ongoing investigation into the unsolved April murders of local couple Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin.
“We’re still working various leads,” Lt. Paul Doroshov said as four investigators pored over case files, binders and laptops holding digital evidence one recent afternoon. “People have been working day and night on it.”
Northup, 87, and Maupin, 76, were found brutally stabbed to death in their South Davis condominium on the night of April 14, after the couple failed to show up earlier that day for both a friend’s memorial service and a benefit performance of Northup’s band, the Putah Creek Crawdads.
Their residence showed signs of forced entry, though investigators say the scene did not appear consistent with a burglary gone awry.
Over the past six weeks, Davis police — with assistance from the FBI, state Department of Justice and other law-enforcement agencies — have served more than two dozen search warrants, interviewed scores of witnesses and processed 350 pieces of evidence in the search for their killer or killers.
“Well over 55 people have had recorded interviews,” including relatives, friends and others who may have crossed paths with the well-known couple, Detective Keirith Briesenick said.
“And that number will probably grow exponentially by the time this is all over,” Doroshov added. “Our interviews have to be fairly detailed to capture all of the information.”
Detective Ron Trn estimates he’s written as many as 18 of the case’s 25 search warrants served thus far — about six of them for physical locations, the rest for background information such as phone, email and financial records in hopes of uncovering that crucial clue.
The ongoing probe has resulted in a shifting of responsibilities at the agency, with patrol officers conducting their own investigations into lower-level crimes “just to free up resources for this case,” Doroshov said.
Detectives also continue to operate a recorded tip line — 530-747-5439 — with the hope that citizens will continue to phone in possible tips about the homicides, however small they might appear to be.
“Something that people might think is irrelevant may suddenly become highly relevant to us,” Doroshov said.
Meanwhile, the slain couple’s Cowell Boulevard condominium remains sealed as a crime scene, something that Northup’s daughter Mary said has thwarted some relatives’ ability to process their grief.
Photographs, musical records and other mementos inside the residence have remained off-limits to the families, along with poems and short stories Northup said her father has penned over the years for his grandchildren.
“For me, that’s added a level of difficulty,” Mary Northup said. The violent nature of the couple’s deaths, along with the loss of two sources of love and support, “is making it a lot harder for us to recover.”
As for the ongoing investigation, “I think they’re doing the best that they can,” said Northup, whose family has done several recent television news interviews to keep the case in the public eye.
Police investigators are still asking members of the public for any information they might have — including any photography, video recordings or security footage taken in the couple’s neighborhood around the time of the murders that might have captured a person of interest.
“Nine out of 10 (tips) usually don’t go anywhere, but we’re looking for that one that does,” Doroshov said. “We’re not going to give up on it. Some homicides are solved (quickly), but for others it’s a long, painstaking process.”
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene