Mourners gathered outside the Venice home of Eun Kang to not only remember the woman who enjoyed surfing and was a dedicated businesswoman but to express outrage for the attack that left the mother of unborn twins dead.
The crowd joined together for a candlelight vigil six days after police say that 38-year-old Kang, who was four months pregnant, was raped and stabbed to death at her home at 1660 Electric Ave. at about 10 p.m. December 8th.
Boneetio Kentro Washington, 22, of Culver City, was arrested at the scene without incident and has been charged by the Los Angeles County district attorney with three counts of capital murder, authorities said. The charges carry the special circumstances of multiple murders, murder during a rape and murder during a burglary, and Washington was additionally charged with one count of rape and one count of sexual penetration, district attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Washington, whom police suspect may be connected with other crimes in the surrounding communities, was charged in September with one felony count of first-degree residential burglary and sentenced to 335 days in jail and three years of probation, Robison said. He is being held without bail and his arraignment was continued to Thursday, December 17th at the Superior Court Airport Courthouse after he did not enter a plea at his first appearance. Prosecutors have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
Police believe the attack was random and have found no connection between the victim and suspect.
Homicide Det. Mark Morgan of the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific division said Kang came to the U.S. from Korea and after initially living in New York, she moved to Southern California in 2003 where she started a dry cleaning business. Some of those who knew Kang recalled her kindness and say she was committed to her P1 Cleaners business in Beverly Hills.
“She just had an excellent work ethic as a businesswoman,” said Tamara Hall, a customer of Kang’s for three years. “She was very polite and pleasant and had a very gentle spirit.”
Others were quick to point out Kang’s strong interest in surfing, a hobby represented by a picture of her displayed at the vigil. Marina del Rey resident Keiko Okamoto, a friend of Kang’s who came to pay her respects at the vigil, also spoke of her generosity, saying she would help Okamoto during her music performances.
“She was a giving person and she helped me a lot,” said Okamoto, who added that Kang made hand crafts and became fluent in Japanese after studying at a college in Korea.
Landlord and neighbor Arnold Springer, who has also served on advisory boards in Venice, told the crowd that Kang chose to come to the U.S. to take care of her brother who was battling cancer and she worked hard to support herself in a new country.
“What a person,” Springer said. “She was honest and had integrity; she was just an ordinary, decent human being.”
It was Springer who called police after he said he heard screams and witnessed a portion of the attack. Springer was visibly emotional at the vigil, speaking on his anger at the nature of the crime.
“This really tries my faith in humanity,” Springer said to the mourners. “My first reaction was that I can’t fathom how a man can do this to a woman.”
Other feelings of outrage were voiced by several vigil gatherers who said the crime was unacceptable in their community.
“I’m outraged that this happens in our community and that there are people walking around who would engage in this horrific crime,” said resident Jim Hubbard, who helped organize the vigil. “I don’t accept this in my neighborhood.”
Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who said that city officials are equally outraged, noted that the community has come together to mourn the loss of Kang and her unborn twins. The councilman said that Kang’s family was aware of the vigil in her honor and were appreciative of the support.
“We’re all connected as a community and when somebody gets hurt we all get hurt. We’re showing our solidarity for human kind,” he said.
Community members also thanked police for their efforts to make an arrest at the scene. Commander Andrew Smith of the LAPD West Bureau said officers have been particularly saddened by the circumstances of this homicide.
“Whenever you hear of a crime like this involving a woman, who’s so innocent, it tears an officer’s heart out,” Smith said.
Morgan simply called the crime “heinous,” saying it showed a total disregard for a woman who worked hard and was minding her own business.
“It’s one of the worst that I’ve ever been involved with,” Morgan said, comparing the homicide to other cases.
Morgan said police believe the suspect entered the home through an unlocked front sliding door and allegedly attacked Kang while she was inside. He is then suspected of raping her and fatally stabbing her with a knife from the kitchen that was found at the scene, Morgan said.
Officers surrounded the home and arrested Washington as he was allegedly trying to escape by knocking out windows, Morgan said. They found Kang in the upstairs loft and she was taken to a local hospital, where she was later pronounced dead, he said.
Detectives say they are investigating Washington’s history and trying to determine if he is wanted for other crimes.
Venice community members specifically pointed out the lack of lights on the street where Kang lived and said that random crimes such as this can shatter neighbors’ sense of security. Mar Vista resident Brigitte Steinmetz, who lived at Kang’s home prior to her moving in, said she was horrified by the attack because the home has such a peaceful environment.
“It’s just horrible because this home is very special and very peaceful,” she said. “You never think something like this would happen, that’s why it’s so horrifying.”