The Trail Went Cold – Episode 25 – Hugues de la Plaza

June 2, 2007. San Francisco, California. Hugues de la Plaza, a 36-year old sound engineer with dual French and American citizenship, returns to his apartment after spending the evening at a club. When morning hits, Hugues is found stabbed to death. Since a security camera shows no one else heading in the direction of Hugues’ apartment that night, police explore the possibility that Hugues committed suicide and his death is classified as “undetermined”. However, Hugues’ family discover disturbing discrepancies which point to murder, so they are forced to bring in the National Police from France to seek justice for his death. In this week’s episode of “The Trail Went Cold”, we examine a very controversial case which prompted an international police force to take over an American investigation.

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

5 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Episode 25 – Hugues de la Plaza

  • Your theory that he was attacked by a romantic connection is definitely plausible, but I lean more towards attempted home invasion from some random thug from the dangerous neighborhood across the street.

    What I think happened is that random thug knocks on his door, he opens, thug lunges at him with a knife, they struggle, he manages to push the thug back out his doorway and lock it again, but not before getting stabbed. He collapses and dies, and the thug wanders away.

    This seems more likely than a jealous husband or ex girlfriend attacking him. While people do get killed for their romantic activities, much more people are killed by street criminals.

    The main objection to this theory is that he wouldn’t have opened his door to a stranger, but remember first of all that he was drunk, and most likely not in a good decision making frame of mind, which the attacker would have picked up on. The second thing, and I think this is much more interesting, is that he isn’t American. He comes from a country where violent crime is far lower than it is here, which would mean that when someone knocked on his door it didn’t even occur to him that it could be a violent attacker. Lastly, I would bet the criminal used some sort of pretext to get him to open the door, like asking for directions or pretending to be a repairman or something like that.

    • That’s a good point about Hugues not being American and not as cautious about violent crime. In fact, his friends apparently expressed their concern about him walking home from the club through a bad neighbourhood that night, but he seemed unphased. While I still lean towards the romantic revenge theory, I certainly can’t rule out the possibility that it could have been a random attack from some street criminal, in which case, would make the case a lot more difficult to solve.

      It recently occurred to me that have never publicly revealed whether the DNA found on Hugues’ wristwatch was male or female. If it was female, they might be leaning towards more the theory that he was murdered by a jilted lover.

  • Very interesting episode! You mentioned the San Francisco police department possibly listing his death as “undetermined” to fudge the numbers a bit, sadly they seem to still have a problem with this. Recent investigations into their crime reporting practices found multiple issues with this, like: not providing the data to the public at all, having two sets of crime data for the same year, or providing very vague and incomplete crime statistics to the public.

  • To be fair to the police, San Francisco is one of the most liberal leaning cities in the United States, and liberals tend to see the police more as an enemy of the people than anything else, and have lots of excessive rules restricting very tightly what they are allowed to do in the enforcement of the law. So if they are not doing their job well, it’s probably down to the politicians in charge of the police department, including the chief of police and the mayor, rather than that the officers themselves happen to be incompetent or corrupt. They have to work within a set of rules that are given to them by the politicians, so the politicians must ultimately bear the blame for the results.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the most liberal cities in America has one of the least successful police forces.

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