Washington state woman buried alive by estranged husband escapes shallow grave

A Washington state woman who was allegedly buried alive in the woods this week by her estranged husband managed to escape to safety from the shallow grave, authorities said.

A Thurston County Sheriff’s deputy located a frantic woman hiding behind the shed in a home’s front yard shortly before 1 a.m. on Monday, according to a declaration of probable cause filed Wednesday in the county’s superior court.

“My husband is trying to kill me,” the woman screamed, according to the court document.

“She had duct tape still wrapped around her neck, lower face and ankles," the filing said. "There was extensive bruising to her legs, arms and head and her clothing and hair were covered in dirt.”

The woman’s husband, Chae Kyong An, is now facing a slew of recommended charges such as first-degree attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree assault, according to the probable cause declaration.

He was booked into the county jail on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, during a preliminary hearing, a judge granted the prosecutor’s request to hold him without bail, according to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Kyong An, 53, has not been formally charged yet, prosecutors said. His attorney was not reached for comment Thursday.

Police in Lacey, about 60 miles southwest of Seattle, responded Sunday afternoon to the woman’s home after receiving a 911 call of a woman “screaming” who sounded “gagged,” according to the probable cause document.

The woman later told police she was attacked in her home after talking to her husband about their ongoing divorce and money.

Kyong An tied his wife's hands behind her back with duct tape, and duct-taped her eyes, thighs and ankles, the court document said. She told investigators she managed to call 911 with her Apple watch and sent an emergency notification when he left the bedroom.

He dragged her into the garage and broke her Apple watch with a hammer, the report said.

Police obtained surveillance video from neighbors of Kyong An’s van parked at the home. They also have video of him pulling into the garage with the van and then speeding out of the neighborhood, the probable cause report said.

The woman told police she was driven in the van somewhere and then put on the ground outside. She told police she could hear him digging in the dirt, according to the probable cause declaration.

He then stabbed her in her chest, she told police.

“She was drug and put into the ground. … A heavy tree was put on top of her,” the probable cause document said. “After being put into the ground she could hear her husband walking around the hole and dirt being put on top of her."

The woman told police she struggled to breathe inside the hole, and managed to keep dirt off her face by squirming around. She guessed she was inside the shallow grave for hours, according to the court document.

When it got dark, the woman told police, she managed to wiggle free from the duct tape. Once she got the tape off her eyes, she could see the van’s window’s steaming and a light inside. That’s when she ran for about 30 minutes, until she found a home. Someone at the home called 911, the court document said.

The woman told investigators her husband had threatened to kill her before. She said he had told her he would “rather kill her than give her his retirement money,” the probable cause report said.

Investigators were able to find the shallow grave the woman described, on the edge of a clearing by an access road with limbs and downed trees, the report said.

“The hole appeared to be freshly dug. Outside the hole was a piece of duct tape,” the report said.

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