A Lacey man accused of trying to kill his estranged wife on Sunday is being held in Thurston County jail without bail.
Chae Kyong An, 53, attended his preliminary appearance in Thurston County Superior Court on Wednesday. Prosecutors alleged he committed first-degree attempted murder, domestic violence, as well as first-degree kidnapping, assault and felony harassment.
Court Commissioner Nathan Kortokrax set no bail after finding probable cause for the alleged crimes. Kortokrax also prohibited Chae An from contacting Young An, the 42-year-old woman who was allegedly kidnapped, and some witnesses.
The Olympian typically doesn’t name crime victims, but Washington State Patrol previously identified Young An in a widely shared missing persons alert on Sunday.
Court records reveal new details about the investigation into Chae An. They include a harrowing narrative of Young An allegedly being beaten in her Lacey home, bound in duct tape, stabbed and nearly buried alive in the woods.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth McMullen requested the court set no bail, which effectively means he cannot be released for now. She cited concerns Chae An may commit a violent crime or interfere with the case.
“The declaration of probable cause laid out a really horrific situation in which the defendant dug a grave, placed his estranged wife in that grave and told her that he was going to kill her after he had finally attacked her and kidnapped her from her home,” McMullen said.
Chae An’s public defense attorney Ahmed Jenkins requested bail be set at $150,000, saying that amount would likely be enough to keep him in jail. He added Chae An, a veteran who served for 30 years, has no prior criminal convictions or a history of failing to appear in court.
“It’s highly likely… that he has some service-related mental health conditions that will end up being addressed probably later on,” Jenkins said.
Young An did not attend the hearing in-person. However, a victim’s advocate read aloud a statement from Young An before Kortokrax decided on bail.
“Please no bail,” Young An said. “I am really afraid for my life. I just want to emphasize that I fear him so much and he will kill me again if he is out.”
A Sheriff deputy found Young An about 1 a.m. on Monday at a residence on Stedman Road Southeast, which is south of Lacey. Deputies located Chae An later that day at about 7:40 a.m. after a resident spotted his vehicle in the woods near Stedman Road.
Chae An was initially taken to an area hospital where he remained under guard, The Olympian previously reported. Law enforcement booked him into Thurston County jail on Tuesday.
A probable cause statement describes the investigation into the alleged kidnapping from the perspective of law enforcement.
Dispatch received a call from a woman later identified as Young Ann before 1 p.m. on Sunday. In the call, dispatch heard screaming from Young An who was seemingly “gagged.”
The call notes indicated dispatch heard banging and struggling sounds as well as a dog barking in the background. Eventually, the statement says the sounds subsided until there was only silence.
Using cellular tower data, dispatch located where the call came from and directed Lacey police to respond. Officers arrived at the home on the 3800 block of Rossberg Street Southeast at about 1 p.m. and found an unoccupied home with the garage left open.
The officers learned the An family resided at the home, which the statement says had a previous history of domestic violence.
Young and Chae An’s children arrived while the officers were still on scene. The oldest child reportedly told police she saw her father’s van in the driveway before she left with her younger sibling to go shopping.
She added she received a text message from her mother at about 1:07 p.m. The message reportedly indicated an emergency occurred at their residence. Another witness also reported receiving the same emergency alert.
Video from a neighbor’s camera allegedly showed Chae An taking his van into the garage and later speeding out of the neighborhood.
At about 12:51 a.m. Monday, Young An arrived at a residence on the 9900 block of Stedman Road Southeast. The residents of the home called 911, according to the statement.
A Thurston County Sheriff’s Deputy responded and found Young An hiding behind a shed. The statement says she rushed toward the deputy and cried for help.
Young An reportedly said “My husband is trying to kill me,” and “My husband is still out in the woods somewhere.”
The statement notes she was in distress and had trouble recalling exactly what happened to her. However, she did allege her husband kidnapped her, bound her in duct tape, drove her into the woods, stabbed her multiple times and placed her in a hole he dug with a shovel.
At about 7:37 a.m. on Monday, deputies arrested Chae An while responding to a suspicious vehicle call. He was found in his van on the Chehalis Western Trail near Stedman Road, according to the statement.
At about 1:18 p.m. Monday, law enforcement interviewed Young An while she recovered at an area hospital.
She told police she found Chae An in her home when she got back from attending church. She said she sent her children away so she could discuss matters related to her divorce with Chae An, according to the statement.
During this interaction, Chae An allegedly became angry and Young An asked him to leave. She alleged Chae An punched her in the head multiple times and threw her to the ground in her bedroom.
Then, Chae An allegedly duct taped her hands behind her back. He also allegedly taped her eyes, thighs and ankles.
Young An told police she called 911 with her Apple Watch and sent an emergency notification to her trusted contacts when Chae An left the room for a few minutes. She said she heard a dispatcher answer, but she could not respond because her mouth was covered as well.
Chae An allegedly dragged her into his van. On the way, the statement says he noticed her Apple Watch, smashed it with a hammer and removed it from her wrist.
Young An told police Chae An drove her to wooded area. At one point, he allegedly stabbed her multiple times with a small knife in the chest area.
Eventually, Chae An allegedly placed Young An in a hole he had dug in the ground. She added he placed a “heavy tree” on her. Then, she said he started throwing dirt onto her.
She recalled Chae An saying she was going to die, per the statement. Young An wiggled as much as she could to avoid having dirt on her face, she reportedly told police.
Once it was dark, Young An managed to remove some of the duct tape on her, including the tape covering her eyes. She reportedly saw Chae An’s van before turning to run away through the woods.
She eventually came across Stedman Road which led her to the residence where she would later be found.
In a follow-up interview on Tuesday, Young An shared more details with police. She alleged Chae An said he would rather kill her than give her his retirement money, per the statement.
She said she continued to feel afraid of Chae An, adding he worked in “intelligence” for the U.S. military and was “extremely smart” and well-traveled.
That day, detectives located the area where Chae An had allegedly dug a hole and placed Young An. The area was 65 inches long, 30 inches wide and 19 inches deep. In it, they found loose dirt, duct tape and hair consistent with Young An’s hair.
One piece of duct tape at the scene even had the frame of Young An’s Apple Watch still attached to it.
People who experience intimate partner violence in Thurston County can call SafePlace at 360-754-6300. That line is open 24 hours a day and translation services are available. The National Domestic Violence Hotline also accepts calls, chats or texts 24 hours a day at 800-799-7233.