5 Dead in Oak Bay Murder-Suicide
Bodies of young boy, two adult women, two adult men found in King George Terrace home; police believe killer is among the dead
Rob Shaw, Cindy E. Harnett, and Richard Watts, Times Colonist
Published: Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Police are investigating a mass homicide-suicide after the bodies of five family members were discovered in an upscale Oak Bay home Tuesday morning.
Police received a 911 call around 3 a.m. from someone inside the home at 310 King George Terrace, which is a winding oceanside residential street atop a bluff that overlooks the Olympic Mountains and Strait of Juan de Fuca.
"It was a call for help," said Saanich police Sgt. John Price. "We have multiple deceased people in the home."
Oak Bay, Saanich police investigate crime scene.
Darren Stone, Times Colonist
Price said one of the dead is believed to be responsible for the killings.
The first Oak Bay police officers who entered the modest two-level white home found two bodies inside, said Oak Bay Chief Constable Ron Gaudet. Officers called for backup from the region's emergency response tactical team, and pulled away from the house under the belief a suspect may be barricaded inside with a firearm, Price said.
Six hours later police had secured the home - in the process shattering the windows and breaking down the door.
Inside were the bodies of five members of the same family - four adults (two men, two women) and a six-year-old boy, said Rose Stanton, regional coroner for Vancouver Island. Their bodies were in separate rooms in the house. Coroners are investigating it as a murder-suicide, said Stanton.
She said there were no gunshot wounds, but would not reveal the cause of death, except to say that investigators were calling in RCMP blood-spatter experts for help.
Until a special Vancouver-based investigative unit arrives on the scene Wednesday, the bodies will remain where they are.
Investigators also found a flammable substance at the home, said Stanton. "I gather there may have been an attempt to set fire to the residence," she said. It apparently did not succeed.
As many as 12 officers from Oak Bay and Saanich police are conducting the investigation. Oak Bay's small police force contracts out its major crime cases to Saanich.
The five-bedroom million-dollar home has been listed for sale for eight days. The registered owner is businesswoman Sunny Yong Sun Park. Also listed as holding a certificate of lawsuit against the home is Park's husband, Peter Hyun Joon Lee.
The couple, who opened a Korean restaurant in Victoria three years ago, took possession of the character home in November 2006. They had a young son named Christian, who was entering Grade One this year, and either Park's parents or Lee's parents had been visiting recently.
Court documents reveal the couple were likely seeking a divorce, fighting over ownership of the home, and that Lee was just recently charged with assaulting Park. Lee was also under conditions not to contact his wife, visit the family home, visit the restaurant or possess any weapons or explosive substances.
Lee was charged with causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and aggravated assault. The charges were in connection to an incident July 31, 2007 in which investigators said Lee drove his vehicle into a pole, which caused Park to break her arm.
Victoria police, who investigated the accident, said it appeared the crash was a deliberate attempt to cause injury after an argument stemming from a marital breakup.
"We held the driver in court and he was remanded into custody and appeared in court," said Sgt. Grant Hamilton. "Our recommendation at the time was the driver not be released ... we were concerned he would pose a serious risk to his wife and his family."
Nonetheless, Lee was released on bail.
Lee was scheduled to enter a plea for those charges on Sept. 12. He was also facing another trial - set to start Oct. 24 - on threatening and unlawful confinement of another person, Richard Park.
Meanwhile, Sunny Park and Lee both have their names on B.C. Supreme Court lawsuits, with matching dates, Aug. 3, 2007 (three days after the driving into the pole incident) and matching file numbers, indicating the two had likely filed for divorce. Divorce files in B.C. are kept confidential.
The last time news of a grisly homicide rocked the privileged Oak Bay community was in 2004 when a university student was beaten to death with a baseball bat. The last murder before that was in 1974.
Neighbour Liz Williams never met the family but said the quiet neighbourhood strung along a tourist scenic route is stunned by news of a possible multiple murder in its midst.
"We are all quite shaken to have this happen so close," Williams said. "And we're so sad this kind of thing happens.
"It makes you wonder if you couldn't have helped," she said.
For neighbours, the drama began before the sun rose.
Neighbour Maureen Ross woke up at 4 a.m. to the lights from a fire truck. "At about 7 a.m., I heard two gunshots, just as if someone was hunting for 1/8an 3/8 animal."
Kirsten Maxwell, whose property backs onto the 310 King George Terrace home, also heard the unmistakable sound: "I heard one shot and I was startled by it," she said. "It's weird this is happening in Oak Bay."
Neighbour Sandy Van Der Geest described Lee as a "stay-at-home" dad. Her dog Riley played with Christian.
Over time, the neighbour began to think it was odd that she never met the man's wife.
"He always made excuses for her not being there," Van Der Geest said. She occasionally invited the new family over for dinner but the wife never came.
Korean-born chef Peter Lee officially opened the family's Korean restaurant, Guru Bar and Grill, at 1015 Fort Street on May 20, 2004. He renovated the two-floor, 7,000-foot space to serve traditional Korean food.
Lee's family runs four other Korean restaurants - all managed by his older sisters - in Toronto and Vancouver.
Claire Yoo, president of the Korean Community Association, said she knew Park and Lee through the local community ties.
Yoo said about one month ago Park approached her and asked her for help selling their restaurant. Park said she had a buyer.
"Sunny wanted to see the restaurant and people working there be retained as well," said Yoo.
Joseph Wong, owner of J and J Noodle House across the street from Guru, said Lee borrowed some things from him prior to opening his restaurant in 2004 but since then hadn't seen much of him.
Wong said there's been a lot of talk as to why the restaurant closed temporarily last month.
"It's been a mystery for us why the restaurant has been closed for so long," Wong said.
The mystery continued when Wong observed police combing the restaurant for clues early this morning.
"This is very unfortunate," Wong said.
Back at the Oak Bay home, a police officer's jacket lay covering the for-sale sign in the front yard.
© Times Colonist (Victoria)