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한인회 2007.12.06 03:38 조회 수 : 326 추천:44

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A 'Big Loss' to Korean Community

By T.J. Wilham
Copyright © 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque's Korean community mourned the loss of two of its most prominent members Wednesday, and police vowed to "pull out all the stops" to find their killer.
Tak Yi and his wife, Pung, left their Far East home 30 years ago as part of the first wave of Koreans to settle in Albuquerque. Tak, 79, was a veteran of the South Korean military and had been the president of the Korean American Association in Albuquerque. Pung, 69, was active in the Korean Methodist Church, where she sang in the choir.
On Tuesday, the couple were found dead inside their Northeast Heights home.
Police say one of the couple's sons found their bodies at the home in the 6900 block of Avenida la Costa NE about 4:30 p.m. The two were supposed to go shopping with their children, and when the son didn't hear from his parents, he went to their home.
"(Tak Yi) was a member of the first generation of Koreans to make a foundation in Albuquerque," said Sam Mun, current president of the Korean American Association. "This is a big loss for the Korean community. He was very important to our community."
Investigators have not made any arrests. On Wednesday, they released a sketch of a "suspicious" man who was seen Monday a block away from the couple's house trying to persuade a homeowner to let him in. Police are calling the man a "person of interest" and are asking for anyone with information to call.
Police said the couple were found with massive head trauma in a large common room of the home. Tak Yi was close to the kitchen, and his wife was near a hallway.
Investigators haven't determined how the couple died. They were waiting for autopsy results late Wednesday. Investigators said head trauma could be anything from gunshot wounds to blunt trauma.
There were no signs of forced entry, and nothing was missing. Police have not found a weapon. They say no one has reported hearing anything, and the couple's Jaguar was untouched and parked in the garage,
"I want to solve this," Police Chief Ray Schultz said Wednesday night. "We are pulling out all of the stops. Our people will be working through the night to determine what happened."
Before the bodies were discovered Tuesday, neighbors said, they knew something wasn't right.
On Tuesday morning, Tak Yi wasn't in his yard waving to motorists as they passed by, and his trash bin wasn't in front of his driveway for pickup. He was known to take out his and his neighbors' trash.
"He failed to put out his trash bin yesterday, and I put it out for him because he (has) done it for me a couple of times," said Fermin Perea, who lives across the street. "I never suspected anything like this. It is just real tragic."
John Miller and his wife, Shari, who lived next door, said that a couple of years ago the couple took a three-month trip to South Korea. While they were gone, the Yis' sons renovated their yard.
"I am very upset. The whole family is just really nice people. I don't know who would do this," Shari Miller said. "What in the world could be the motive?"
Friends say Tak Yi had worked for the state highway department before retiring.
Mun said Tak Yi was one of the association's largest donors and played a key role in establishing the Korean Community Center on Menaul.
Pastor Kee Cheon Kim of the Korean United Methodist Church said he started to worry about the couple several months ago.
He said Pung Yi told his wife someone had tried to break into the couple's home through a side door while she was there about six months ago. When the would-be intruder saw Pung Yi, he took off. A few weeks later, someone broke into the house and stole jewelry, Kim said.
Investigators have no records of the break-in or the attempted break-in.
The Korean Community Center kept its doors open late Wednesday for people to come in and reflect. Some friends gathered to remember the Yis.
"They were planning to go to Alaska next month. They (had) already set up all the plans," said Kim Young, a family friend and chairwoman of the Korean American Association of New Mexico.
"She's full of life," said Yon Pratt, a family friend who said Pung was thinking about how to celebrate her 70th birthday. "She was going to TVI (Central New Mexico Community College) to learn computers. She is a very intelligent lady and inquisitive. She's a very sophisticated lady."
Journal staff writer Jim Snyder contributed to this report.
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