Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: Where There's Smoke...

John Doe Gets a Name

The post mortem medical examination of John Doe No. 225 revealed that he had suffered an even more horrifying death than the cops had imagined he had been burned alive.

The autopsy uncovered soot in the man's nostrils, his trachea, and his lungs, indicating he was alive when he had been set on fire. He'd also been beaten savagely just before his death. And he'd been sodomized.

"This poor man...what they did to him," Deputy D.A. Duarte says. "This was horrible, horrible, one of the most horrible cases I've seen."

Meanwhile, detectives continued to try to identify their victim. The medical examiner had pegged him as a middle-aged Asian male. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 115 pounds at autopsy. In life he had been maybe a buck twenty, a buck twenty-five. Either way, not a very big man.

Roger Lim as Lon Kim
Roger Lim as Lon Kim

Detectives read recent missing persons reports and soon found one that looked promising. Just hours before they discovered the burned body near the airport, someone had filled a report with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department about a missing 53-year-old Asian man named Lon Kim. Mr. Kim was an engineer and real estate investor from the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Mr. Kim's wife had reported him missing after he didn't come home from a short trip into South Central L.A. to collect rent money at an apartment building he owned.

Detectives contacted Mrs. Kim.

"His wife was frantic to hear what had happened to him and where he was and what the situation was," Barron says.

As an immigrant, Lon Kim had been fingerprinted when he came to the Unites States. Detectives got a copy of the fingerprint card and his dental records to compare to their victim. They matched.

John Doe No. 225 was Lon Kim.


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