LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) - A man and his alleged accomplice were
charged Tuesday with beating and stabbing his ex-wife, her two
children and a relative and then setting an Antelope Valley home on
fire to cover up the crime.
Jae Hwan Shim, 39, of Palmdale, and his friend Steve Kwon, 37,
of Los Angeles, were each charged with four counts of first-degree
murder, one count of arson of an inhabited structure and burglary,
the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.
Shim was accused of threatening his former wife Young Park after
she moved out of the family house earlier this year and moved in with her cousin in Quartz Hill. The burned bodies of Park, 34; her son Justin, 9; daughter Jamie, 13, and her cousin's husband Joseph Ciganek, a NASA scientist, were found in the house on June 23.
Meanwhile, the slain woman's boyfriend was missing and authorities were trying to determine whether he may be a victim of
Si Young Yoon, 34, of Lancaster, was a martial arts teacher for
the children and Shim was upset that he was dating her, prosecutors
Yoon's Acura sport utility vehicle, with his driver's license, check book and credit cards inside, was found near the burning home, authorities said. He originally was considered a "person of interest" in the killings but investigators changed their minds.
"They do believe he may be a victim of foul play now,"
sheriff's Deputy Denise Fuchs said.
Shim and Kwon would be eligible for the death penalty if
convicted because the murder charges carry special circumstance
allegations that they committed multiple murders and killed during
They could not immediately be reached for comment. They were
being held without bail in Douglas, Ariz., near the Mexican border,
after police arrested them there Saturday.
Prosecutors will seek their extradition but the process could
take several weeks, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the
district attorney's office.
Shim, who has a beauty supply store in Palmdale, is the second
husband of Park and was not the father of the two children killed.
Robison said they did have a 3-year-old son together and Shim left
the child in another person's care before he disappeared after the
Ciganek worked at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at
Edwards Air Force Base, authorities said.
Within hours of the fire, sheriff's homicide detectives found
Ciganek's body in one bedroom; the other victims in another. He and
the children died of multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma,
the coroner's office said. Park died of multiple stab wounds.
Investigators recovered from the house a samurai sword and
baseball bat they believe were used as murder weapons.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)