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Friday, December 21, 2007
Salesmen Accused Of Sexual Assault
By Scott Sandlin
Journal Staff Writer
Two traveling magazine salesmen being held in the killing of an elderly Korean couple inside their Northeast Heights home sexually assaulted the woman, according to indictments filed Thursday.
The indictments charge Michael Joseph Lee, 21, with a total of 29 counts and his companion Travis R. Rowley, 23, with 27 counts, including murder and rape.
Tak Yi, 79, and his wife, Pung Yi, 69, were found dead in their home on Avenida la Costa by their son on Dec. 4. Autopsy results showed they had been beaten, strangled and suffocated.
The District Attorney's Office is determining whether to seek the death penalty in the case. Aggravating circumstances such as kidnapping, murder of a witness or rape could make it eligible for the death penalty.
The indictment, which kept the grand jury after its normal adjournment hour, was returned late Wednesday.
It charges Rowley and Lee with first-degree murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, larceny, aggravated battery and rape.
Investigators left out details about the alleged rape in complaints and search warrants while authorities searched for more evidence, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said.
Investigators also wanted to speak to the family first about the alleged rape before releasing those details, she said.
On a document accompanying the indictment, Rowley is described as 5-foot-1, 210 pounds, with a tattoo on his forearm that says "all give some, some give all." The 5-foot-7, 165-pound Lee has a tattoo that says "Smile now, cry later" on his chest and "Boston" on his left arm.
The two are being held on $2 million cash bonds.
Rowley and Lee worked as salesmen for Integrity Program LLC, a Las Vegas, Nev., company that hires independent contractors to go town to town selling books and magazine subscriptions.
Rio Rancho police spotted Rowley after getting complaints from residents about a magazine salesman. He allegedly told police that Lee went into the home, planning to steal something and that, when Rowley followed him, a man ran into the house through a back door.
Although Rowley told police Lee suffocated the woman and stomped the man's head with his foot, Lee gave police a statement, saying he had nothing to do with the murders.