CRIME: Mamma's Boy

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Pity the girl who marries Frank Duncan, clacked the gossips around the Santa Barbara, Calif, courthouse. The owl-eyed lawyer was arrogant and humorless, lisped so noticeably that teasing court clerks called him a "wicked wascal wabbit" behind his back. But that was the lesser half of it: Frank at 29 was a mamma's boy. Matronly, smartly dressed Elizabeth Duncan, separated from her husband when Frank was a child, held her son's hand in court, applauded when he won a case, tongue-lashed the district attorney when he lost. So tight was the noose that once, when Frank threatened to leave home, his mother took a heavy dose of sleeping pills and was carried off to Santa Barbara's Cottage Hospital.

Love & Leave. There, ironically, romance entered Frank's life 13 months ago. Mother Duncan's nurse was slight, auburn-haired Olga Kupczyk, 30, recently of Vancouver, Canada. After Mother Duncan was sent home, Frank and Olga dated. In May Olga was pregnant, and told friends she was in love; in June she and Frank were married. But scarcely had a superior court judge tied the knot than Olga Kupczyk Duncan's mother-in-law trouble began. The newlyweds checked into a Santa Barbara motel for their wedding night. At 1 :30 a.m. Frank had to go home to mother.

For five months Frank Duncan spent evenings with Olga, nights at home. Sometimes mother Duncan, 54, would harass Olga by telephone at the hospital; sometimes she would beat on the apartment door and scream threats. Twice Olga changed apartments to escape her mother-in-law; each time Mother Duncan trailed Frank to his rendezvous. And one day last August mother Duncan hired an ex-convict to act as her son, posed herself as Olga, got a Ventura County superior court judge to annul her son's marriage.

Defeat & Death. Olga and Frank ignored the threats; Olga, in fact, had high hopes that the baby's arrival might win over Frank once and for all. Then, in mid-November, Olga's hospital friends reported her mysteriously missing. Frank was no help. Santa Barbara and Ventura police turned up the phony annulment and, with help from the FBI, followed a trail that led to two characters of Santa Barbara's seamy Haley Street area: blade-thin Augustine Baldonado, 25, and Luis Moya, a 22-year-old convict (dope and street fighting). Both finally confessed that mother Duncan had hired them to kill Olga for $6,000. They led the cops to a shallow grave in a Ventura County ditch. There indeed lay the body of Frank Duncan's bride, the victim of beating and strangulation.

Mother Duncan, already in jail for the fraudulent annulment, was led from her cell and charged—along with Baldonado and Moya—with murder. Angrily, she denied all, called the whole thing a frame-up to hurt her Frank. Frank himself hid under an assumed name in a Hollywood apartment until the cops tracked him down. Then he scarcely grieved over his dead wife and unborn child. But he was shocked and shaken by his mother's plight. Said he: "I could never recall mother doing anything cruel. She would have to be insane to be linked into it."