The January suicide of James Aune, chair of communications at Texas A&M University and widely known scholar of rhetoric, stunned his colleagues nationwide. The suicide now appears to be related to blackmail, The Houston Chronicle reported. A Louisiana man has been charged with a scam in which he took nude photographs of a female relative, started a sexually explicit online relationship with Aune in which the man posed as the relative, and then pretended to be the father of an underage girl with whom Aune was allegedly corresponding. The man -- Daniel Duplaisir -- then demanded that Aune pay him, threatening to otherwise tell officials at Texas A&M that Aune had been engaged in an online sexual relationship with a girl. On the morning that Aune killed himself, Duplaisir sent a demand that the payments start within three hours or "the calls start." A minute before he jumped to his death, Aune sent Duplaisir a message: "Killing myself now. And u will be prosecuted for blackmail."
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