A woman’s remains are found in a New York dumpster.
New York City has always promised the hope of a new start to immigrants like Su-Young Kim and his wife, Su-Ya. In 1981, they married in Seoul, South Korea, then moved to the United States. Su-Young and Su-Ya worked in flea markets until they were finally able to open two stores, one in Long Island and the other in Bushwick, a section of Brooklyn known for its ethnic diversity.
As the business grew, so did the Kim family. Su-Ya and Su-Young had two sons, and often the whole family could be found at the Brooklyn store. The Kims eventually moved to a spacious apartment in Queens. There, on the afternoon of June 29, 1991, just five days after Su-Young and Su-Ya had celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary, Su-Ya left the boys with their grandmother while she went shopping. When Su-Young came home at 8 PM, his wife had not returned from her shopping trip. He called all her friends, but no one knew where she was. Su-Young’s concern mounted after he found Su-Ya’s car still parked in the garage, its engine stone cold:
The next day, Su-Young Kim was summoned to the medical examiner’s office to identify a body:
“I could not and did not want to believe what was going on. As soon as I recognized my wife’s body, I felt everything was over. The whole world seemed to crash down on me. I could not think of anything else except my children.”
Su-Ya Kim had been stabbed nine times. Her body was dumped in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, seven miles from the Kims’ apartment in Queens. Although she was nude, there was no evidence of rape. Su-Ya appeared to be the victim of random violence. But unlike many random crimes, this one had a witness. Joe Jones was a private security guard hired to patrol an abandoned building in Bedford Stuyvesant. Around 3:00 AM, ten hours after Su-Ya had disappeared, Jones noticed a man behind a building:
The man’s demeanor made Jones suspicious. He got a brief glimpse of the license plate before the car backed out:
Joe Jones recruited a friend who happened by. Together, they cautiously searched the contents of the dumpster. Amidst layers of debris, they saw a woman’s hand. It was the body of Su-Ya. In an uncanny coincidence, the first vehicle to pass by was an ambulance, but it was too late. Su-Ya had already been dead for hours. Thanks to Joe Jones, however, Detective Derrick J. Parker had a description of the killer and his car:
The vehicle was registered to a Taiwanese exchange student at a Long Island college. She said she had not driven it since about ten o’clock the night before. There was no blood in or on the car. And when Detective Parker checked the engine, he found it had not been driven for hours:
Police then began to look at their star witness, Joe Jones, as a suspect. They requested that Jones take a lie detector test. He passed with flying colors and police were positive he had nothing to do with Su-Ya’s murder.
For nearly two years, Su-Young Kim stayed in the United States, but the memories of his wife proved too painful to bear. In April of 1993, he shut down his business and returned with his two little boys to South Korea:
Police have one particular theory which may yet help identify Su-Ya’s killer. The dumpster in Bedford-Stuyvesant was not easily visible from the street, so police believe the killer may be a delivery man or a cab driver, someone with detailed knowledge of the neighborhood.