Today's Springfield News-Leader features the first full-length interview with Robert DuPont since Monday's fire that took 10 lives at the Anderson Guest House which, at the least, is on property Dupont owns.
Longtime News-Leader reporter and one-time syndicated columnist Sarah Overstreet's story reveals that at one time Dupont was a Springfield police officer, a job he left so he could "make a living." It also reviews his time as owner of the Springfield Guest House and his stint as owner of at least six Springfield child care facilities in the 1980s:
The Missouri Division of Family Services filed an injunction against DuPont and his wife, LaVerne, in 1982. DuPont told the News-Leader at that time that he had given up the licenses for his child-care centers in protest that the state "has been willingly and knowingly issuing licenses to day-care centers that do not meet local and state building codes."
According to News-Leader archives, DuPont in 1983 filed a $25,000 damage suit against the Missouri Division of Family Services, charging that some parents removed their children from his child-care centers because DFS representatives incorrectly told parents that one of their centers did not have valid licenses.
"I really don't recall that," DuPont said Friday in a 40-minute phone interview from his Joplin home.
Dupont did recall a $2 million lawsuit that was filed against him at that time:
In 1984, DuPont was sued for more than $2 million by the parents of a 22-month-old girl they said was injured while being cared for in one of DuPont's Springfield Kiddie Campus Child Development Centers. "That one I do have a little bit of a memory about," DuPont said. "It was basically a nuisance suit." According to the News-Leader account, the case resulted in a $6,092.78 settlement for the parents.
Dupont offers this comment on the Anderson Guest House fire:
DuPont wonders whether a fire that started Nov. 25 in an empty room of the home might have smoldered in the ceiling for several days and spread. "I'm not a fire expert; the only reason I have some knowledge about something like that is my daughter had a fire similar to that recently. A week later, they said one part smoldering a week later could burn down the whole place."
Fire officials say that is not what happened, according to the News-Leader report.
(Photos: Left, In this photo by Globe photographer Dave Stonner, Dupont refuses to talk with Globe reporter Derek Spellman, right, Sarah Overstreet. Spellman made a herculean effort to get Dupont to talk with him. I would guess Dupont was not happy with all of the information the Globe reporter uncovered about him during his digging this week.)