Leisa Hurst was reported missing to the Police Department after the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department discovered her orange/rust colored Honda Element abandoned in the area of Olive Street and Second Street in Hesperia.
Her cell phone records show it was last used 10:54 p.m. on a Thursday night near the area of a cell tower at 11500 Mariposa Road in Hesperia. Hurst had not been seen or heard from since.
Jeami Chiapulis, a 36-year-old Helendale, CA resident, had a romantic relationship with Hurst. But he had been living a double life, dating Joyce Fransson, a woman he met while attending Barstow college. He also had a wife, in active duty in the military, who was due back home soon. His house of cards was about to fold.
Exactly what happened that fateful night will probably never be known. Video from Home Depot, and receipts in Jeami’s possession show the purchase of rubber gloves, a shower cap, and bleach, among other things. Two searches of Chiapulis’ home by Barstow Police led investigators to believe that he was connected to her disappearance, but they did not name him as a suspect at that time.
Chiapulis checked himself the psychiatric ward of a VA hospital on Jan. 26. He remained a patient there for several weeks. When Detectives spoke to Fransson, she stated she knew nothing.
After leaving the hospital, Jeami R. Chiapulis was arrested by Barstow Police detectives at a Starlite Motel in Redlands after his discharge from the hospital on February 13, 2009.
On February 18, Chiapulis pleaded not guilty in a Barstow courthouse with Hurst’s family, friends and neighbors present. He was held at West Valley Detention Center, pending trial for Leisa’s murder.
On June 5, Barstow Judge Cheryl Kersey ruled that Jeami Chiapulis would stand trial for the murder of Leisa Hurst, in the first-degree. If convicted he would face 25 years to life in prison.
Searches for Leisa’s remains were conducted along the Mojave River and desert regions south of Chiapulis’ home in Silver Lake Community. The search revealed nothing, and in the end, searchers were off the mark by about 50 miles.
In October 2009 Jeami Chiapulis entered into an agreement with the district attorney’s office during a pretrial hearing to receive 15 years to life in prison for second degree murder in exchange for revealing the location of Leisa Hurst’s body
Chiapulis led detectives and authorities to an area near Newberry Springs, where human remains were found. The remains were positively identified by the San Bernardino County Coroner. On October 30, Leisa was laid to rest at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Apple Valley, CA.
Jeami Chiapulis was formally sentenced to 15 years to life in prison in Novemeber 2009. Leisa’s family and friends filled the courtroom and took the opportunity to talk to the court during the victim impact statements portion of the proceedings. Leisa’s daughters walked toward the front of the courtroom together and took turns speaking.
Chiapulis sat still watching each person as they spoke, no hint of emotion on his now-aged face. The Judge, Steven Mapes asked if Chiapulis would like to make a statement, as he believed the family would appreciate a comment from Chiapulis. The coward, through his attorney, said that he did not wish to give a statement.
In November, Joyce Fransson was arrested in connection with Leisa’s murder. Police believe that Fransson not only helped Jeami Chiapulis abandon Leisa’s car, but also acted as a lookout while Chiapulis buried Hurst in the desert. By her own admission, Chiapulis had woven a story about his family being in the Mafia, and the Mafia had sent him a package to dispose of. She claims to not know what was in the package, a large garbage can. This smart college-educated woman jumped in the car, and together they disposed of the body. She never asked any questions, and claimed to be scared. So scared, that when the police questioned her, she offered no information that could have led to finding the remains for months. In fact, she only offered information after Chiapulis implicated her in the cover-up. She went about her every day life while the family suffered for months not knowing where Leisa Hurst’s remains were buried.
After two days of jury trial, Joyce Fransson made a deal with the court to plead no contest to accessory to murder charges and received three short years for her part in the murder.
Fransson’s attorney, Frank Peterson, said that Fransson was very sorry for what happened and that she should have “put things together” when police interviewed her in April of 2009 but did not cooperate because of her feelings for Chiapulis. She will likely serve 18 months of her sentence after receiving “day for day” good behavior credit.
In a separate investigation conducted in three California prisons, detectives learned that Chiapulis paid a sum of money as down payment to a fellow inmate for the murder of Barstow police Detectives Leo Griego and Keith Libby, Fransson, and Hurst’s two daughters. Nice guy. He struck a deal that got him 15 years to life in exchange for showing detectives where Leisa Hurst’s body was buried, but hopefully this scheme will ensure he never sees the light of day. On September 17, 2010, the Kern County District attorney’s office filed five counts of solicitation to commit murder against this convicted murderer.
Detectives believe Chiapulis wanted the detectives and Fransson murdered to prevent their testimony at future appeals hearings. In case his appeals scheme failed, he wanted Hurst’s daughters killed so that they would not be able to provide victim impact statements at parole board hearings. During his arraignment Chiapulis pleaded not guilt to all five counts. A trial date is now pending. I hope he fries. And Joyce should fry with him.
Leisa Hurst was a single mother trying to raise her two daughters. She had not a single enemy. She was a good and loving person, seeking what each of us strive for; a good life, completed by the love of a caring partner. What she got, and what her family and children must live with for the rest of their lives, was a never-ending nightmare, caused by a depraved demon.
UPDATE: In 2012 Chiapulis was convicted of soliciting the murder of two Barstow police officers, the two children of the woman he murdered and an ex-girlfriend in the hopes of preventing them from testifying in a new trial he hoped for. The 16 year sentence he received will run consecutively with the 15-year sentence, making a total of 31 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution to Hurst’s daughters.