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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Two Korean American seniors of Happy Home Care suffocated to death

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Police officers investigate at The Happy Home Care for Elderly shortly after the murders on June 24. [KTLA screen capture]

Two Korean American elderly women were found to have been “suffocated” to death at a nursing home in Diamond Bar.

The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner released the cause of death of the victims from the June 24 incident at The Happy Home Care for Elderly, operated by a Korean American surnamed Kim, on September 20.

According to authorities, the victims, Hee Sook Park, 83, and Monica Lee, 75, suffered “neck compression and suffocation.” It was also stated that both were “murdered.”

The time of death released by the Examiner-Coroner indicated that Monica Lee died at 8:45 a.m., followed by Hee Sook Park at 8:54 a.m. In a span of just nine minutes, two individuals were killed in the same manner.

The coroner’s office initially labeled the victims’ causes of death as “pending” and withheld their immediate release. The information was made public about three months after the incident.

At the time of the incident, police responding to a homicide report arrested Jianchun Li, 40, a live-in caretaker at the nursing home, on suspicion of murder. Li, of Chinese descent, was responsible for the seniors’ care at the facility.

A report by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) disclosed that Li was employed without a requisite background check.

Following the incident, the agency visited the home care on June 25 and interviewed the licensee, Kim. It was discovered that Kim had recruited Li without a prior evaluation, including the crucial criminal history record clearance/exemption for employees — a mandate from the agency.

Furthermore, the report highlighted that Li was employed on June 1. This suggests that Li committed the crime just over three weeks after his employment.

Authorities have revealed that Li worked without a criminal background check for a minimum of 15 days and had even signed the victim’s medication administration record (MAR) during that period. Consequently, Happy Home Care was penalized with $500 in civil fines.

As of now, Li’s precise motive behind the crime remains undetermined.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office reported that Li pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing on August 31. He faced two counts of murder charges on June 27, merely three days after the event. Li’s preliminary hearing is slated for December 7 at a Pomona court.

In recent developments, the website for Happy Home Care for Elderly has been made private as of September 20. Efforts to contact Happy Home Care for Elderly, along with Love Homecare and Hope Homecare — both managed by Kim — yielded no results.

Per CDSS, the license for Happy Home Care remains valid.

BY SUAH JANG    [jang.suah@koreadaily.com]