Man charged in stabbings, including 1 fatal, at church camp
URBANA, Md. (AP) — An apparently homeless Virginia man fatally stabbed a South Korean missionary and seriously wounded his wife at a Maryland church retreat center, authorities said Monday.
Song Su Kim, 30, of Falls Church, Virginia, was charged in Frederick County, Maryland, with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree attempted murder and two counts of assault.
Deputies responded Sunday night to a 911 call reporting the stabbing at the Anna Prayer Mountain Church Retreat Center, a Christian complex set amid wooded hills near the rural community of Urbana, about 40 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., said Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.
Charging documents identified the victims as Chung Hwan Park, 63, and his wife Ae Suk Ko, 58.
Jenkins told a news conference the victims were missionaries from South Korea. He said the woman had had surgery and was talking to investigators.
“She’s conscious, she’s alert,” the sheriff said, adding that she’s expected to survive.
At a hearing Monday afternoon, Kim was ordered held without bail. He appeared in court in handcuffs and leg irons.
Deputy State’s Attorney Nanci Hamm said after the hearing that a detective told her the victims were volunteer cooks at the center. Kim had called 911 Saturday to complain about the food at the center, according to Jenkins.
Park was stabbed 13 times and Ko, four times, Hamm said.
Hamm said the victims had arrived at the center in early July.
Jenkins said Kim had been living at the center for five days, brought there by Kim’s mother.
Hamm said Kim has an arrest record in Virginia for a 2012 assault on a family member; a 2006 malicious destruction of property charge; and a drunken driving charge in 2005. Court records list a variety of misdemeanor charges against Kim in the past 10 years in northern Virginia, including assault, drunken driving and possession of marijuana. Many of the charges were ultimately dismissed. The court records list “Korea” as Kim’s country of birth. Jenkins said he is a U.S. citizen.
Assistant Public defender Elizabeth Steiner, Kim’s attorney, said in court that the man is homeless and was previously at the Bailey’s Crossroads homeless shelter in northern Virginia.
Steiner declined to comment outside the courtroom.
A receptionist at the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter declined to answer any questions about when Kim had last stayed the homeless shelter.
Charging documents state that Kim told investigators he was tired of being treated badly by “all Koreans,” and wanted to “invade a Korean.”
Kim told investigators Park had treated him badly that day. Kim said he thought about stabbing Park and walked into the kitchen to get a knife, then walked into an adjoining room and stabbed Park several times, according to Jenkins and court documents.
Kim said Park’s wife went to his defense and he stabbed her as well, according to authorities.
Jenkins said two others witnessed the attack.
Jenkins said Kim had called 911 Saturday and told the deputies who responded that “he was really unsatisfied with the food at the facility.”
Spokeswoman Deputy First Class Amanda Hatcher said authorities were in touch with the Korean embassy to make sure family notifications have been made.
Weathered signs directing visitors to the center identify it variously as “Mt. Anna,” ”Anna Prayer” and “Anna Prayer Counseling.” Messages left at the center’s telephone number were not returned.
Hamm said Kim called 911 after the stabbings and said he had just stabbed two people. Jenkins said Kim told a 911 dispatcher he was on the road, on foot, “waiting to be arrested.” He was arrested about a mile from the center without incident, Jenkins said.
Investigators had not recovered the knife used in the stabbings by Monday afternoon.
Ireedui Batsaikhan, a Washington businessman, said he has sent his children to summer camps at the center, which he called simply, “the mountain.” He said the center is used by a number of mostly Korean churches.
“It’s a great place to go because it’s nice and calm and quiet,” he said.
The episode was at least the third deadly incident involving homeless visitors to church properties in Maryland since 2012. Two women, including the co-rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, were shot to death in 2012 by a food bank client who then fatally shot himself. In 2013, a homeless man started a fire that killed both himself and the pastor of St. Paul’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Ocean City, when he ran inside the church’s food bank on fire.
Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Virginia, contributed to this report.