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Suspect arrested in death college student

November 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A suspect is in custody for the murder of a 24-year-old Santa Monica College student.Min Woo Cho was reported missing by family members in June. Caltrans workers found Cho's body dumped next to an off-ramp along the 110 Freeway, near Dodger Stadium in July.

Weeks later, after investigators confirmed the identity of the body, they discovered he had been reported missing a month earlier.

"The body was badly decomposed at the time. So immediate identification was impossible. However, we did have clothing items, which were very descriptive. And those were shown to the family members and they did have an initial identification," said Detective Alan Soloman, Los Angeles Police Department.

According to relatives and police, the victim was a hard-working college student who had never been in any kind of trouble. And according to detectives, he was killed by his former roommate, 24-year-old Steven Hyun Kwon. Kwon allegedly had gambling problems and Cho's family suspected Kwon from the very beginning.

Cho and Kwon were seen at a bar in Koreatown on the night of June 12, the night of Cho's disappearance.

Detectives say the motive for the killing was that Kwon needed money.

"Through details that we have, the suspect apparently did have gambling problems, debt and his meeting with the victim may [have] involved some property issues that he was looking at," said Detective Soloman.

"Being a good son to his parents ... that was the only thing that we talked about a lot," said Rebecca Kim, Cho's aunt.

At a news conference announcing Kwon's arrest, Cho's aunt said her nephew met the suspect at the house he rented when he first moved to Los Angeles in 2005.

"He wasn't close to him. He was just an acquaintance ... friend," said Kim.

Cho knew of Kwon's gambling problems, according to his aunt, but had no reason to suspect he was in danger.

"He was thinking that he has done nothing wrong to him. So, why ... Just didn't have any suspicion of him," said Kim.

Kwon was arrested on Oct. 15 after being detained while he was at the Hustler Casino.

Kwon's bond has been set at $2 million and he is facing murder charges.


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