Ninh Kim Nguyen stabbed an Alhambra woman to death in 1983 with a kitchen knife, stole her jewelry, and then fled to his native Vietnam. It has taken nearly three decades for him to be held accountable for his crimes. The long saga came to a conclusion on Monday when an Alhambra Superior Court sentenced him to life in prison for first-degree murder and grand theft.
Nguyen, 55, was convicted in November of murdering Bui Khuyen, then 38, in her North Fifth Street apartment and stealing her jewelry. Following the crime, Nguyen was questioned as a potential suspect and was reported to be romantically involved with a friend of the victim. But before authorities could apprehend him, he had disappeared in Southeast Asia.
Despite a felony complaint for extradition charging him with the murder filed by the District Attorney’s office in 1983, it took until 1997 for him to be arrested, and until 2008 for him to be returned to the United States to stand trial. He had initially returned to his native Vietnam, but fled after being accused of another alleged jewel theft. He was detained in Cambodia in 1997, four years after the FBI obtained a federal warrant against him. At the time, he was calling himself Juan Ming and had a passport from Taiwan, federal authorities said.
Nguyen was returned to Vietnam and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. In 2008 the Vietnamese government sent Nguyen back to the US to be tried for the murder charge.
He was sentenced to 31-years-to-life for the murder charge, with an additional two years for the theft charge, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.