Woman’s death remains mystery

first_imgEditor’s note: Today begins a new weekly feature spotlighting unsolved crimes. A new case will be highlighted each Sunday. The cases run the gamut from the grisly to the bizarre. But they all share one thing in common: all remain unsolved. It has been nearly two years since two plastic bags dumped on Lexington-Gallatin Road in Pico Rivera yielded a woman’s head, arms and legs. Her torso turned up later in a Los Angeles trash bin. But her name and her killer remain unknown. Two of Un Sam Lee’s friends who hadn’t heard from her made a noontime visit to her condominium complex in the 13200 block of Gainsway Court in La Mirada. They discovered her bound, gagged and dead. The couple called lawyers first, then notified deputies, according to Detective Phil Martinez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau. Martinez said the 47-year-old Lee was asphyxiated. Five years later, the investigator is nearly certain that several people were involved in Lee’s death. And it wasn’t a random killing, Martinez added. “I had reason to believe it was a home-invasion robbery,” he said, adding that the suspects used a very unique way to enter the condo. “She was targeted. She probably knew her killers, based on evidence recovered at the scene and the investigation,” he said. But Martinez is keeping mum about the evidence and how the killers gained entry into Lee’s place. “We have certainly not ruled out anybody at all,” he said. Detective Jeffrey Leslie said Lee’s white Mercedes-Benz wasn’t taken, but her condo was ransacked. Leslie said co-workers last saw Lee on April 4 as she left her business, Happy Spa, in Santa Monica. Martinez said Lee didn’t have family here and recently married a 39-year-old man in Korea. Relatives had said she arrived in her La Mirada condo less than two weeks before the murder. The husband told Korean media that he last spoke to Lee April 5 and that her cell phone was abruptly cut off. After she was killed, detectives said, her family contested the marriage, contending it was not binding. Lee owned three to four massage spas in Los Angeles and Orange counties, as well as a hotel/ski resort in Korea, Martinez said. She came over from Korea, worked for various massage spas in both counties, then became an owner of several of these spas, he added. Detectives suspect Lee might have rubbed elbows with the wrong crowd. The case has taken investigators to Reno, Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada, but the solution, so far, escapes their grasp. Lee’s killing was the only homicide in La Mirada in 2002; one of 15 murders that year recorded in the sheriff’s Norwalk Station’s jurisdiction. Of the 317 homicides reported to the Sheriff’s Department in 2002, detectives solved 156 and determined 11 were unfounded. Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff’s Detective Phil Martinez at (323) 890-5629. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Then there is the armed robber who apologized while holding up a La Mirada bank – twice – and a Hacienda Heights bank last year. He is still on the loose. And the search continues for the killers of a La Mirada woman who was found bound, gagged and asphyxiated in her condominium four years ago. For frustrated detectives, unsolved cases like these exist in a state of limbo. Leads dry up, witnesses are scarce and sometimes victims remain unidentified. But often a single tip can yield the solution to a local mystery that has languished in the unsolved files for years. April 6, 2002 last_img read more

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