A Hyattsville woman has been charged with murder in the slaying of a Bladensburg shopkeeper after she confessed to attacking him with a box cutter, then beating him with a chainsaw before setting his store on fire, Prince George's County Police officials said Monday.
Ashley Dominique Owens, 23, of Hyattsville, has been charged with second-degree murder in the April 8 slaying of Richard Changsun Nam, the 69-year-old owner of Check Experts.
Police said the attack stemmed from a dispute between Nam and Ms. Owens and that it began soon after she entered the store, at 5439 Annapolis Road, at about 9 p.m.
Ms. Owens allegedly left the check-cashing and convenience store after the slaying to buy gasoline, then returned before 10:30 p.m. to douse the interior and set the fire, police said. She also took $2,000 from the cash register.
"The robbery was an afterthought," said police Maj. Michael Straughan, adding that the money has not been recovered.
Police and fire officials arrived to find Nam suffering from multiple injuries. He died at a hospital, Maj. Straughan said.
Detectives began the investigation with a surveillance video that showed a woman walking through the aisles of the store but no interaction between her and the victim.
Police said the video and interviews with witnesses helped them identify Ms. Owens as a suspect. She was arrested June 30 and is being held without bond at the countyjail in Upper Marlboro, according to Prince George's District Court records.
"She confessed to stabbing Mr. Nam with a box cutter and beating him with a chainsaw," Maj. Straughan said at a news conference Monday at police headquarters in Palmer Park.
Police described Ms. Owens and the victim as acquaintances but provided no information about how they knew each other or the nature of the dispute. Ms. Owens lived about four miles from the store.
"The Nam family has been a pillar in the Bladensburg community for many, many years," Deputy Police Chief Lt. Col. Kevin Davis said.
Nam also was well known in the Korean business community, officials said.
"This is a tragedy for the whole community," said Jeff Ahn, president of the Korean American Association of Greater Washington.
Ms. Owens also has been charged with arson and armed robbery. No attorney was listed in online court documents as representing her. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 29.
This is the second time tragedy has struck the Nam family at the Bladensburg store. In 2002, Nam's niece Sherry Kang was killed during a robbery, Maj. Straughan said. The three men charged with the crime remain behind bars. The two killings are in no way related, the police official added.
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Andrea Noble is a crime and public safety reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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