Man sentenced for trying to bury estranged wife alive

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — A judge has sentenced a man to more than 13 years in prison after he tried to kill his estranged wife by burying her alive, authorities said.

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Chae Kyong An, 54, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder, domestic violence last month, The Olympian reported.

“On October 16, 2022, in the County of Thurston, Washington, with the intent to cause the death of my wife Young Sook An, I took a substantial step towards the commission of the offense when I kidnapped her from our home, took her to the woods, assaulted her and placed her bound in a hole and covered her with branches,” he said in court records, according to the newspaper.

On Monday, Judge Mary Sue Wilson sentenced Chae An to 165 months in prison and 36 months of community custody, the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.

Authorities arrested Chae An after his estranged wife showed up at a stranger’s home early on the morning of Oct. 17, 2022, yelling that her husband was trying to kill her, KIRO-TV reported. Deputies found her with duct tape around her neck, lower face and ankles, and dirt covering her clothes and her hair, according to the news station.

Young An had been beaten, stabbed and buried alive in the woods, The Olympian reported. She told investigators that Chae An became violent after they got into an argument about their ongoing divorce and money, according to KIRO. She said she was briefly able to call 911 from her Apple Watch after he attacked her and bound her with duct tape, but she wasn’t able to speak because the tape was over her mouth.

Chae An later smashed Young An’s watch with a hammer, KIRO reported.

Young An said her estranged husband threw her into a van and drove her to the woods. There, he dug a hole in the ground, stabbed her and put her into the hole before covering her with dirt and branches, according to KIRO.

She said that she was able to keep dirt out of her face by wriggling around, but she still had a hard time breathing. She spent hours in the ground before she was able to wiggle free of the tape on her arms and legs. When she emerged, she found that the van was still there and took off, KIRO reported.

She told investigators that she ran for about 30 minutes before finding a house. Authorities later found the hole where she was buried in the woods.

Chae An’s attorney, Michael Austin Stewart, described his client in a court filing as a highly decorated military intelligence warrant officer who served for more than three decades, The Olympian reported. He has a 100% disability rating from the Department of Veteran Affairs for injuries and illnesses related to his service, according to the newspaper.

Stewart added, “Psychological testing by both the State and Defense agree that Mr. An was experiencing PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) related symptoms during the events of October 16, 2022.”

In a statement shared on social media, the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said officials hoped “the conclusion of this case will allow the victim the time and space to focus on healing from this event.”