A manhunt for a convicted child sex abuser, who fled his trial before receiving a life sentence, ended abruptly when he was found dead in a Galveston residence.
Richard Jay Duplessis, a resident of Galveston, Texas, was on trial for the continuous sexual abuse of a child relative. Despite attending the first two days of his trial, Duplessis was absent on the third and final day, prompting the judge to issue an arrest warrant and triggering an urgent manhunt.
Despite his absence, the jury, after less than ten minutes of deliberation, sentenced Duplessis to life in prison. His body was later discovered in a friend of a family member's home, where he had apparently taken his own life, as reported by Click2Houston.
The case against Duplessis began in August of the previous year when a child victim revealed that Duplessis, a family member, had been sexually assaulting her since she was six years old. Galveston police arrested Duplessis in September, and he was subsequently indicted for continuous sexual abuse of a child.
The indictment alleged that the abuse began in May 2021 and ended in February 2022. The range of punishment for the offense was 25 years to life in prison. Duplessis managed to post a $250,000 bond in November 2022.
The trial began on July 18, and the jury heard testimony from two other victims who were previously sexually abused by Duplessis when they were children.
According to records, Duplessis was accused of sexual assault of a child in Galveston County in 2016 but was convicted of a lesser charge of endangering a child. In 2017, he was accused of the same crime again in Harris County, but court records show that case got dismissed. The reason for the dismissal remains unclear.
During the trial, Galveston County Chief Assistant District Attorney Raneca Henson argued that Duplessis took advantage of the victim's trust and innocence. The state also presented text messages that showed the nature of inappropriate communication Duplessis had with the child.
During the punishment phase, Henson argued, "The defendant has shown he is a predator, and he preys on young girls that can't protect themselves." The defense argued that Duplessis needed rehabilitation, but Henson countered that he needed prison, not rehabilitation.
Following Duplessis' disappearance, the U.S. Marshal’s Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Fugitive Task Force began an active search for him, following up on every lead. However, the manhunt came to an unexpected end when Duplessis was found dead, having apparently committed suicide.
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"Not only was he found guilty, the jury determined that he needed the maximum punishment in prison."
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The discovery of Duplessis' body brings a tragic end to a case that has shocked and saddened the Galveston community. The impact of his crimes will continue to be felt by his victims and their families, but the conclusion of the manhunt brings a measure of closure to this disturbing chapter.