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Arrest in Kim Case

Day laborer charged in homicide of Burke man.

Montgomery County Police, working in cooperation with the Fairfax County Police Department, arrested Carlos Bustamante-Medieta, 29, of the 4500 block of King Edward Court in Annandale for the murder of Burke resident Hak Bong Kim, 55.

According to Fairfax County police reports, on Monday, Aug. 15, at around 7:20 a.m., a citizen jogging in the woods near the 3500 block of Ravensworth Road in Annandale discovered a badly burned body. Using dental records, investigators later determined the body to be Kim’s, said the reports. Autopsy reports showed that the victim died of multiple stab wounds before his body was burned, said Lt. Bruce Guth, Fairfax County Homicide Squad supervisor.

Kim, a contractor and carpenter, had been reported missing by his family on the day before, after leaving that morning in a white 2001 Ford Econoline van.

On Tuesday, Aug. 16, Montgomery County Police responded to a theft call at the 5600 block of Warwick Road in Chevy Chase, Md. According to a Montgomery County police report, the homeowners had hired Kim to work on their house and came back from vacation to find the work unfinished and some property missing. Officers investigating the scene found blood spots on the floor, said the report, and began a joint investigation with Fairfax County Police when they learned that Kim was the victim of a suspicious death in the Fairfax area.

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, Fairfax County and Montgomery County police conducted a press conference in Fairfax City to discuss the details of Bustamante-Medieta’s arrest. According to Montgomery County Police reports, the suspect is in custody in Fairfax County on a fugitive from justice detainer, and will be extradited to Maryland where the homicide warrant will be served. Bustamante-Medieta is charged with first-degree murder in Md., because the homicide took place in Chevy Chase.

According to Guth, Kim had probably hired Bustamante-Medieta, a day laborer originally from Honduras, to help him work on a project. Kim regularly used day laborers, said Guth.

"[Kim] would use what we describe as regular helpers," he said. When his regular laborers were unavailable or he needed a different set of skills, said Guth, Kim would hire day laborers from sites such as the 7-Eleven. "He was very generous with them, would always buy them lunch. He always paid them well, as far as day laborers go."

The investigation led officers to a 7-Eleven store in Annandale, said Guth, where a surveillance camera showed the suspect with Kim. Police made a poster with a picture of the suspect from the tape, and on Sunday, Aug. 28, began canvassing the area. Within 15 minutes, said Guth, someone recognized and identified Bustamante-Medieta as the last person to be seen with Kim.

In the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 29, Montgomery County Police went to Bustamante-Medieta’s home and made the arrest, said Guth. He is awaiting arraignment.

Police would not discuss motivation for the crime and are sure that it is not gang-related.

Guth stressed that the murder is not a reflection of the larger day-laborer population.

"In this case, it was no different from any other murder," he said. "It was a bad guy who did bad things. He just happened to be a day laborer. That’s the bottom line, to paint a broad brush over the whole community is unfair."

Guth and Fairfax County Police Officer Rich Perez said that this incident was the first murder case they had ever seen where the suspect was a day laborer.

"This case was broken from the help of the day laborer community," said Fairfax Police spokesperson Marianne Jennings. "They really stepped up to the plate."

According to Guth, the man who identified Bustamante-Medieta was also a day laborer and refused the $1,000 award offer at first.

"My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Kim family," said Fairfax County Police Officer Gun Lee, who worked on the case. "But if one hopeful thing came out of the case, [it was that] both law enforcement communities were working together to solve this case. The Latino community, the Korean community, and all the citizens of Fairfax and Montgomery counties were working together to resolve the crime in their jurisdictions."