In 1996 Dr. Haing Ngor was murdered in an alleyway near his apartment on the edge of Chinatown in Los Angeles. Having just parked his gold Mercedes he appears to have been shot dead in a botched robbery.
Ngor, originally a gynecologist, had escaped from a prison camp in Cambodia and fled the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.
In America, he became famous after being one of only two non-professional actors to win an Oscar in an acting category. At the Academy Awards, he won the category for best supporting actor for his performance in The Killing Fields, a movie documenting the horrors of Pol Pot’s regime.
Immediately after the shooting, rumors flew around the Cambodian community, was this Pol Pot or other members of the Khmer Rouge taking revenge on the outspoken critic of the former dictator. Among Cambodians, this case is seen as equivalent to the Kennedy assassination in terms of conspiracy theories.
The Los Angeles Police Dept. launched an international investigation; however, they soon concluded that the killers were 3 members of an Asian American street gang. The killers had previously specialized in snatching purses and jewelry theft. The police ruled this a robbery gone wrong, and 3 juries agreed with them.
Opponents of this theory point to the $2,900 that Ngor had in a coat on the backseat of his car and the $800 in the pocket of Ngor’s pants. If this was a robbery, why were these items left behind?
However, the killers had taken a $6000 Rolex watch and a locket with a photo of Ngor’s dead wife. Police found graffiti nearby suggesting the crime was gang-related. Eyewitnesses stated they’d seen the 3 gang members running from the scene.
LAPD consulted vigorously with the FBI, and Secret Service agents, but could find zero evidence of an international conspiracy. They charged the 3 members of a street gang with murder.
Despite the case being officially closed, it has continued to garner interest and conspiracy theories.
At a trial, Tak Sun Tan, Indra Lim, and Jason Chan, members of the Oriental Lazy Boys gang, were all sentenced to murder and will likely spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
See details of the crime on People Magazine Investigates at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.