Man Killed, Wife Hurt in Maryland Church Stabbing

Suspect had been staying at retreat center for about five days, authorities said

A man was stabbed to death and his wife was seriously injured during a service at a church and retreat center in western Maryland on Sunday night.

The suspect, 30-year-old Song Su Kim, had been staying at the Anna Prayer Counseling and Retreat Center in Urbana for five days prior to the stabbing, authorities said. Kim's mother brought him to the retreat center, but the reason for his stay is not known.

Sheriff's deputies found a "very bloody scene" after responding to a 911 call about the stabbing at the church Sunday evening, said Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins at a news conference. Authorities were dispatched at about 7:44 p.m.

"There was a pretty gruesome scene, pretty bloody," Jenkins said. "The stab and slashing injuries were pretty severe."

A charging document said four people were at an evening service which was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. A witness told authorities they were waiting for the suspect to finish eating dinner.

The witness told authorities that Kim entered the sanctuary with his hands behind his back, and when one of the victims asked him to sit down, he pulled out a knife and began stabbing the two victims.

The witness said she ran into the kitchen to call 911 and when she returned, the suspect was gone.

"In my mind, looking at that crime scene and looking at how it occurred, I would think there was premeditation," Jenkins said during a press conference Monday.

The 63-year-old male victim, identified by his passport as Chung Hwan Park, died at the scene. Authorities said he had suffered multiple stab wounds.

Park's 58-year-old wife, Ae Suk Ko, suffered several stab wounds and was flown to a Baltimore trauma center in critical condition. She had surgery Sunday night and is listed in serious, but stable condition. 

According to a charging document, Kim said he was tired of being treated badly and disrepected by Koreans, and said the male victim had treated him badly on the day of the stabbing. He also told authorities the male victim's wife had gotten in the way while trying to defend her husband, so he stabbed her too, said the document.

He told authorities he wanted to "invade a Korean" for the way all Koreans treated him, and had that thought for eight years, the charging document said.

The victims were missionaries visiting from the Republic of South Korea. Authorities don't know how long they'd been in the United States, said Spokeswoman Deputy First Class Amanda Hatcher. Authorities were in touch with the Korean embassy to make sure family notifications have been made.

The center is located near Sugarloaf Mountain, about 50 miles west of Baltimore.

Shortly after the stabbing, detectives took the witness down the road and found Kim, and the witness identified him, according to charging documents.

Around the same time, the suspect called 911 and said he needed an ambulance because he just stabbed two people, according to the document.

Kim was taken into custody without incident.

He was being questioned and was cooperating, Jenkins said earlier Monday. 

Kim has been charged with first- and second-degree murder, attempted first- and second-degree murder, and two counts of first-degree assault. Police do not know his relation to the victims.

Deputies had been called to the facility the day before the stabbings, Jenkins said, when Kim was complaining about food at the center.

Deputies spent hours Monday searching the area for the knife used in the crime and for any other evidence.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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