A Washington woman was buried alive for hours in the woods outside her town — after calling 911 on her Apple Watch — with police arriving in her home just moments after she was violently kidnapped.
Chae An, 53, allegedly attacked his estranged wife Young An, 42, in a dispute over money amid their divorce. He then allegedly tied her up with duct tape, stabbed her and buried her in a 19-inch-deep hole in the woods, according to police in the town of Lacey, Washington.
A surveillance camera caught him speeding past a responding police officer’s vehicle, with his victim tied up in the back of his car.
The cruiser was on the way to Young An’s home in response to a muffled 911 call, which had been placed by the hogtied and gagged victim through her Apple Watch.
The responding officer was unaware at the time of the description of the suspect’s vehicle nor of the fact that the victim had been abducted, said a Lacey Police Department spokeswoman. Chae An’s voice can be heard on the line as he enters the home at the end of the recording, which was obtained by Fox News.
“The dispatch was an ‘unknown trouble call,’” Sgt. Shannon Barnes said Wednesday. “So he had no information about anything he was walking into.”
The responding officer walked into Young An’s home just a few minutes after the alleged abduction. Court documents allege that Chae An smashed the watch off his estranged wife’s wrist with a hammer, but the call was still active and could hear the officer entering.
Chae An allegedly got into a fight with his estranged wife over money he was expecting to lose during their divorce, according to police documents. Investigators say that he ambushed her at home and tied her up with duct tape on Oct. 16.
A home security system at a neighbor’s house across the street recorded Chae An pulling a van into the garage of the home and closing it. He is suspected of loading his estranged wife into the back of the vehicle.
When her husband left the room, Young An was able to call 911 from her Apple Watch and send emergency alerts to her children and a friend. Despite Young An being bound and gagged, unable to articulate words, the dispatcher realized something was obviously wrong and sent officers to the home.
“I’m gonna get help started for you – hold on for a second,” the dispatcher says in the recording, in response to the muffled screaming that continues throughout the recording. She then read out Young An’s address, and asked if that’s where she is and if she’s in trouble.
The victim spoke through the gag, saying what sounds like “Yes.” The dispatcher attempts to reassure Young An throughout the call. “I’m still here,” she says, promising to stay on the line until officers arrive.
However, when Chae An returned, she was taken away. He allegedly drove his wife into the woods about seven miles away, threw her in a shallow grave and covered her with dirt and fallen branches. At some point he stabbed her in the breast, prosecutors allege.
Hours later, after sundown and when Chae An was inside his van, Young An escaped from the hole, ran through the woods for a half hour, before she found a good Samaritan who called 911.
The first deputy on scene found her cowering behind a shed. The probable cause statement said, “When Young realized the deputy was law enforcement, she sprinted at them, screaming and crying for help. She grabbed onto the deputy frantically and said, ‘My husband is trying to kill me. Help me.’”
Chae An was found six hours later near the shallow grave he is accused of throwing his wife into. He has been held without bail since. Police found fragments of the shattered Apple Watch stuck to duct tape recovered at the scene.
Chae An pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree domestic violence kidnapping and first-degree domestic violence assault Tuesday. He is being held without bail and due back in court on Nov. 16.
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