Brutal home invasion ends in murder

UPPER DARBY, Pa. - November 11, 2008 Upper Darby Police call it a savage crime. The torture attack of a middle-aged couple, both immigrants from Vietnam, who have been here in the United States for about seventeen years.

They were apparently random victims, attacked in their own bedroom Monday night.

"The crime scene was one of horror," said Upper Darby Superintendent Michael Chitwood. "Detectives described it as a house of horror."

It happened in the 100 block of Copley Road in Upper Darby. Chitwood says the intruder broke in through a front window then made his way to the upstairs bedroom.

There, Chitwood says, the man attacked 60-year old Hoa Pham and his wife. Investigators say, during the ordeal, the suspect beat the couple, then bound them and tortured them for up to two hours, demanding more and more money.

Chitwood told reporters, "He bound them at that point in time with electrical wire. He then demanded money. Monies were given to him. He demanded more money and continued to beat the husband, and there was no more money to be given. He drug them both downstairs where he proceeded to continue to beat them both." Pham's wife as sexually assaulted repeatedly.

Pham, a steelworker, was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife had called police after fleeing the house. She remained hospitalized in serious condition Tuesday night.

The couple had six children. Their 22-year-old son says he's still in shock.

"We're just grieving right now," Son Pham said. "We're just trying to get our mom to feel better."

Pham and his family came to the United States 17 years ago. He was an officer in the South Vietnamese army, and was held in a communist prison camp for seven years after the fall of Saigon.

He was a member of St. Alice's church near his home, which has 2000 members representing at least 20 nationalities from Vietnamese to Haitian.

"He was active in helping the needy, so this tragedy is a loss for our neighborhood," said Father Petere Quinn of St. Alice Roman Catholic Church.

Late Tuesday police and firemen searched rooftops in the neighborhood, including the church's, to see if the killer may have ditched the murder weapons. They're looking for some kind of blunt instrument and some sharp object.

Police only have a vague description of the suspect. If you can help them, call Upper Darby Police at (610) 734-7677.

The funeral for Hoa Pham has been set for Saturday morning.

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