Dr. Haing Ngor’s murder in 1996 left a bitter taste among the community. The authorities were charged with swiftly capturing the killers. Haing had experienced a lot. He survived the Khmer Rouge genocide of Cambodia and moved to the United States where he won an Academy Award for acting. Investigation Discovery’s ‘People Magazine Investigates: A Killing In Chinatown’ charts Haing’s life and the reason behind his murder. So, if you’re curious to find out more about this case, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Dr. Haing Ngor Die?
Haing was born and raised in Cambodia. He was a doctor and an officer in the military’s medical staff. Haing had to conceal his medical abilities because he was afraid of being executed. Haing maintained that he was a taxi driver, despite being tortured multiple times. He was also flogged and put in a bag. A portion of his finger was also chopped and he was hit with an ax.
Haing did not reveal that he was a physician. He couldn’t even help his wife, who died while giving birth to their baby. After the Vietnamese invasion of April 1979, Haing fled Cambodia with his 10-year old niece. They reached Thailand after escaping from Cambodia with their 10-year-old niece. Haing eventually became a counselor for refugees in the United States after moving to America in 1980.
In 1984, Haing starred in ‘The Killing Fields,’ winning an Oscar. Although he appeared in several other roles, he spent his money supporting Cambodian refugees. Haing was living in a small two-bedroom apartment in Chinatown, Los Angeles, California at the time of the incident. Haing was found in his garage near his car at around 8:45 on February 25, 1996. The 55 year-old victim was hit in the chest with a 9mm gun. Haing was on his way home from a meeting with friends when the incident occurred.
Who Killed Dr. Haing Ngor
Initially, the authorities didn’t think it was a robbery because Haing’s wallet, with nearly $3000 inside, was untouched, and his Mercedes was still there. However, relatives mentioned that Haing’s expensive Rolex watch was missing, in addition to a gold chain and locket that contained his wife’s photo. A possible political motive was also considered, as Haing had spoken out about his desire to bring the perpetrators of the massacres in Cambodian to justice. This included Pol Pot who was a leader of the Khmer Rouge and ruled Cambodia from 1976 to 1979.
However, the police could not find any link between Haing’s murder being connected to Cambodia. Police were later informed by witnesses that three men fled the scene of the shooting. The shooting was suspected to be gang-related because of the graffiti found in the vicinity. They eventually found Tak Sun Tan (19 years old), Jason Chan (18 years), and Indra Lim (19 years).
They were believed to be part of the Oriental Lazyboys gang, which is known for carjackings as well as robbing houses. They were taken into police custody in April 1996 and the prosecution filed a case against them. The prosecution claimed that Tak, Jason, as well as Indra, were high on crack cocaine at the same time and wanted to purchase more drugs. They then targeted Haing.
According to the prosecution, the trio took Haing’s watch, but he refused to give up the locket that had his wife’s picture. They shot Haing with a 9mm gun. Two witnesses pointed out that the group was at the crime scene in an early stage of the investigation. Two witnesses also stated that Indra, Tak, Jason and Jason were given rides as they ran away from the apartment building. During the trial, however, they retracted these statements.
Another witness for the prosecution was Thol “T-Bone” May, a gang member. He placed a 9mm gun in Jason’s hand. The defendants gave varying accounts. Tak stated that Tak was one of the two who were present in the alley where the crime occurred. He also claimed that he heard only the gunshots. The watch and gun were never found, so there was no physical evidence linking the two groups to the murder.
Where is Tak Sun Tan and Jason Chan?
Unusually, three men were simultaneously tried in the same courtroom with two different juries. The defense cited circumstantial evidence and presented witness statements regarding a car driving off after shots were fired. The defense suggested the murder might have been an assassination but no evidence was ever provided. Indra, Jason, Tak were all found guilty in April 1998 of killing Haing.
The jury couldn’t decide who fired the gun but believed all of them were involved. Tak was sentenced to 56-years to life in prison. According to records, he is still in California’s correctional facility and will be eligible for parole by 2036. Jason was sentenced for life without parole. He is currently serving his sentence at California State Prison Lancaster, Los Angeles County.
Indra was finally sentenced to 26-years imprisonment. According to the show, Indra was released from prison in 2018, after having served 22 years behind bars. Indra has since maintained a low profile, and it’s unclear what he currently does. California is where he was last seen. Over the years, rumors about Haing being assassinated continued. Kang Kek leu, a prison warden during the Khmer Rouge regime, claimed that Haing was murdered because of his appearance in ‘The Killing Fields.’ However, no concrete evidence has ever surfaced.
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