A Washington state woman survived being buried alive and told police her husband was the culprit.
On Sunday at around 1 p.m., police went to a home in Lacey, Washington, after receiving a disturbing call featuring muffled screaming and what sounded like a struggle, according to a news release from the police department. They arrived to find the garage door to the house open. The resident’s children arrived a short time later and said they had last seen their parents at the home about half an hour earlier.
Police searched the home and found no one, but soon learned that the resident, Young An, had a domestic violence protection order against her husband, Chae An. Police issued an Endangered Missing Persons Alert and canvassed the neighborhood. A security camera caught Chae pulling into the home’s garage and shutting the door briefly, but he left just before officers arrived.
About 12 hours after police first arrived at the home, someone in another neighborhood awoke to find Young banging on their door and pleading for help, telling the residents “my husband is trying to kill me,” according to a declaration of probable cause obtained by NBC News.
Thurston County deputies responded to the scene and found that Young had sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Young told detectives that Chae had kidnapped her from her home and taken into the woods.
“She had duct tape still wrapped around her neck, lower face and ankles,” detectives wrote in the court filing. “There was extensive bruising to her legs, arms and head and her clothing and hair were covered in dirt.”
Young reportedly told police that Chae had taken her after they spoke about their ongoing divorce. He allegedly bound her hands behind her back with duct tape, placed duct tape over her eyes, legs, and ankles, and dragged her into the garage. She told police that he drove her to the woods and heard him digging in the dirt before stabbing her in the chest.
“She was drug and put into the ground. … A heavy tree was put on top of her,” a court filing said, according to NBC. “After being put into the ground she could hear her husband walking around the hole and dirt being put on top of her.”
Young said she had difficulty breathing, but kept moving around to keep the dirt off her face. She told police she believed she was in the shallow grave for hours, and was able to wiggle free from the duct tape after night fell. She was then able to see the van Chae drove with a light still on. She said she ran for about 30 minutes to find help.
Young also told investigators that her husband had previously threatened to kill her, saying he would “rather kill her than give her his retirement money,” in the divorce.
Investigators were able to corroborate the woman’s story by finding the shallow grave where she was buried.
“The hole appeared to be freshly dug. Outside the hole was a piece of duct tape,” police wrote in the court filing.
Chae has been arrested but not formally charged, though the court filing recommends numerous charges, including first-degree attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping, and first-degree assault.