Failed marriage ends in murder-suicide | May 21, 2010 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - May 21, 2010

Failed marriage ends in murder-suicide

Money also an issue with couple who owned Vogue cleaners

by Daniel DeBolt

The man believed to have shot his ex-wife before shooting himself May 14 wanted to resume living with her — or be paid for his share of the home and dry cleaning business they had once owned together, friends and co-workers said Monday.

In the city's first homicide since 2008, Cho Yong Chang, 70, and his ex-wife In Ku Lee, 62, were found dead Friday morning, May 14, inside Vogue Dry Cleaners on Escuela Avenue by an employee. Both had been shot and a gun was found at the scene, police said. There was no sign of breaking and entering.

Police are classifying the case as a murder-suicide, but are not ruling out the possibility of a double murder.

"We're not discounting the possibility that it could be a staged murder-suicide," police spokesperson Liz Wylie said Tuesday morning. "But so far we have uncovered nothing that points to that."

Police say Lee was shot by someone else several times in the torso and once to the head, while Cho died from one gunshot wound to the neck.

"Evidence gleaned during the autopsy further confirms our current classification as murder-suicide with (Cho) as the shooter," Wylie said via e-mail Tuesday.

Siaby Singh, a clerk at the 7-11 store across the street from Vogue Dry Cleaners, said people in the neighborhood looked up to Cho and some even called him "Mayor." Cho would visit businesses in the nearby strip malls several times a day to socialize.

"People went to him for help and advice," Singh said. When the warm food at 7-11 was about to expire, Cho would take it to a struggling family living behind the dry cleaners, Singh said. "That's the kind of person he was," Singh said.

"He was a trustworthy guy," Singh said. "It was like losing family."

Cho worked for Lee after their divorce in order to make a living because "he had to," Singh said.

Santa Clara County court records reportedly show that Lee had been ordered to pay Cho $350,000 in their 2004 divorce in which Lee became owner of a Santa Clara home. Years later, Cho felt he had still not received his share, but "he was never angry," Singh said.

"Let me get my share and go back to Japan," is what Cho was saying to his ex-wife, Singh said. Cho was born in Japan, according to a Vogue Dry Cleaners employee.

By all accounts, Cho was a "nice, friendly guy," said an employee of Tony and Alba's Pizza and Pasta, another business at the corner of Latham and Escuela streets where Cho would socialize with the staff. "He will definitely be missed," said the employee, who asked that his name not be used.

Anthony Salciccia Jr., whose family owns Tony and Alba's, said people in the neighborhood were shocked and saddened by the deaths.

Cho and Lee had also operated Calderon Dry Cleaners at Calderon and Church streets. Both stores were apparently signed over to Lee at some point, though Cho had been an owner for over 20 years, friends said. Both Lee and Cho had children from previous marriages.

An employee of the Calderon store said Cho would come in daily to help run the place, which is now managed by a daughter of Lee's. He seemed "lonely and depressed," the employee said. "He didn't have any hope."

"He wanted to live with her, but she didn't want to live with him," the employee said of Cho and Lee.


Like this comment
Posted by A 7-11 Visitor
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 21, 2010 at 1:50 am

I used to see the 'Mayor' at the 7-11 store across the street from Vogue Dry Cleaners behind the counter hanging out with the 7-11 clerks and buying lottery tickets... I thought he was a part-owner of that 7-11 store. But then I realized he was just visiting and socializing with the staff. This was almost an every-day affair. He would then just shuttle back to his dry cleaning business (or rather, his ex-wife's dry cleaning business)... It was during the summer of 2009. And there was something oppressive about that particular neighborhood at the corner of Latham and Escuela streets...

Like this comment
Posted by kuman
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 21, 2010 at 8:51 am

He was a super nice man. Nowadays, it's rare to have known one like Cho (Joe). A devoted, super super nice. He will be missed dearly by all accounts!

Like this comment
Posted by michaelmatthew1
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm

I remember him as a great guy. I met him about over 20 years ago at his business when I first moved to Old Mountain View. Both my husband and I have moved away about 6 years ago, but I always wondered how they were doing. He was great, honorable, honest, hardworking and very personable guy. He will be truly missed.

Like this comment
Posted by Vera Lucia
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Reminder to the people who commented above: nice is as nice does...

Like this comment
Posted by Christian
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I'm really confused by the article and some of the comments. The murder VICTIM was a wonderful lady, who worked day and night six days a week and was always friendly. Yet the article is all about what a great guy the MURDERER was. That's just negligent. The tropes you were shooting for are obvious: you either try to dig up almost hidden signs of the murderers true nature and everyone is intrigued, or you, like here, you find nothing and play off the idea that it was all out of character to the wonderment of the readers.
He murdered his ex-wife. Hello? I think you did such a great job of missing the story that people are reading it and thinking the murderer was the one murdered. A+

Like this comment
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 26, 2010 at 8:40 pm

It was not the 'Mayor' who murdered his ex-wife in cold blood. It was the 'Depressed Mayor' who did it. The 'Mayor' was a nice guy, but the 'Depressed Mayor' was the 'Snapped One.' Now the question is did the 'Nice Mayor' transited to the 'Depressed Mayor' overnight or over months and years of suppressed anger.

Like this comment
Posted by Carlos Slim
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 26, 2010 at 9:08 pm

My heart goes to the poor employee at Vogue Dry Cleaners who came upon the bloody scene...and all the small businesses at the corner of Latham and Escuela streets where the Mayor socialized with the employees on a daily basis -- specially, the staff at the corner 7-11 store. Is there any fund/account we can contribute to for that poor employee of Vogue Dry Cleaners?

- Carlos Slim

Like this comment
Posted by Tina
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:08 am

Well sounds like the verdict is in and the Police are still investigating... Murder or Suicide? In either case, the community has lost some people to a cause that is uncommon. You neva know what your neighbors are up to behind closed doors unless you intimate with them!

My 2 Cents.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Gemello

on Jun 4, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Top restaurants to check out

Mountain View Voice readers have officially decided. See which local restaurants and businesses can now claim the title — Best Of Mountain View 2017.

View Winners