Jade Bracelet
Part Four


 
Eventually, Yuk Sim returned to Hawaii. She was very young, still several months away from turning 18. Her whole life lay before her. She couldn't forget what had happened in San Francisco, though. Her single consolation was in knowing that Kit got a decent burial.
This lonely comfort was snatched away from her the following January when she received a letter written by a friend in San Francisco, Helen Chan. Helen wrote in Chinese that a body had been found by a hiker "under the Golden Gate Bridge." It appeared to be the corpse of a Chinese female with auburn hair, dark at the roots, who had been dead for months.
Yuk Sim sat back stunned after reading the letter. "Auburn hair, dark at the roots"...Kit's black hair had been dyed that nut-brown shade.
The conclusion to be drawn was inescapable. The body had to be that of Kit Mun Louie, and the boys had lied about the "decent burial." Hotdog Louie and his gangsters must have thrown her dear friend into the ocean! How could she be sure, then, of the true manner of Kit's death? Suffering an admixture of anger, fear and guilt, the teen-ager mulled the matter over for months. Finally, her anger won out.
On Saturday, October 29, 1977, Yuk Sim went to the police.
She talked with Lt. Gordon Lee of the Honolulu Police Department's Homicide Unit. In that interview, she made no mention of the letter from Helen and its contents revealing the discovery of the body "under Golden Gate Bridge." She seemed simply to want to get the basic elements of the tragic story off her chest. Yuk Sim related details of her departure from Honolulu and her arrival in San Francisco, the people she met, the events leading to Kit's death, and the circumstances of her forced exit from Duck's apartment.
Lt. Lee called the San Francisco Police Department on Monday and was referred to Tim Simmons by Homicide. Lee explained Yuk Sim's interview to Simmons, who immediately researched case files for a possible victim fitting the description of Kit Mun Louie. The results were negative. On Tuesday, Simmons called Lee in Honolulu to report these results. Lee informed him that he'd had a second interview with Yuk Sim who then had spoken of the letter from San Francisco that had informed her of the body found beneath the bridge. She further revealed the real reason she had finally reported the incident--the boys' lie about Kit's "decent burial."
Now Simmons had something to go on. He called the Marin County Sheriff's Office. Sgt. Jim Rydell of the Investigations Bureau answered and surprised Simmons by instantly remembering Case #C77-00035, the number assigned to reports covering the discovery of the body of a red-haired female in a bushy area off Stinson Beach, an oceanside community a few miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. He checked the files and discovered that she had been shot with a .32-caliber automatic behind the left ear lobe. A circlet of green jade was found on the girl's wrist, and several pieces of costume jewelry on other parts of the body. The body had been wrapped in a rug and rolled down a hill.
Simmons telephoned Honolulu again. "Lieutenant Lee, we've really got something here," he related with satisfaction. "I can't believe it! The first call I made, and I think we've got it! This young woman had a lot of jewelry. Did Miss Lin say anything about a jade bracelet?"
Lee hesitated for a few seconds, then replied, "Hey, she did! Kit Mun Louie had a solid, green-jade bracelet she had trouble getting over her hand, so she wore it most of the time. The girl loved jewelry."
On that Friday, the 4th of November, Sgt. Rydell reported from Marin County that a photostatic copy of the victim's dental charts were being sent to Gordon Lee in Honolulu.
On Monday, Simmons researched files kept on Hotdog Louie and Samson Tso, looking for an associate of theirs who might be nicknamed "Duck." A subject turned up by the name of Dard Wei Chen. His criminal record revealed that his AKA (Also-Known-As) was "Duck." The address given was 1400 Washington Street. The next day, Simmons responded to that address with his partner, Fred Lau. On a mailbox, they found the name they were looking for. Duck Chen lived in Apartment 14, the number Yuk Sim had remembered. So this was where Kit Mun Louie died.
Wheels were turning.
That afternoon, November 7, 1977, Simmons got another call from Honolulu. Kit Mun Louie's family dentist had refused to surrender the girl's original dental charts. Later that month, Simmons and Homicide Inspector Al Podesta flew to Honolulu to further the investigation. The dentist relented and gave up the charts. Yuk Sim told the officers her story firsthand, and also identified the jade bracelet and other jewelry as Kit's.
Simmons asked her for the name of the hotel in which Kit had accidentally fired Hotdog's gun. She didn't know the name, but she described it, and the location, so well that the officers knew it had to be Sam Wong's, a semi-transient establishment on Grant Avenue a block away from the Sun Sing Theater. Simmons called San Francisco right away and instructed Patrolman Dan Foley and his partner, Fred Mollat, to take a look at the room where the girls had stayed almost a year and a half earlier.
Foley, a few years afterward, would grumble good-naturedly about that assignment, "Tim and Al got a trip to Hawaii, and Fred and I got a trip to the Sam Wong Hotel."
Foley and Mollat went up to Sam Wong's and looked through endless registration receipts until they finally located the room. The manager took them upstairs, introduced them to an elderly Chinese man who was occupying the room at the time, and left. The cops located a bullet hole in the wall behind a dresser which had obviously been placed there to cover it--probably by the Chinese management, which would never have reported such an incident to police.
The two men put in a call to the Crime Lab, requesting removal of the bullet for ballistics examination. They waited awkwardly for an hour while the room's occupant, who spoke no English, sat mutely in the corner and stared. The cops were embarrassed, and when the manager returned, they asked him to tell the old fellow in Chinese why they were there. In this way they discovered that the Chinese gentleman had just arrived from South America, where he had lived for 21 years. Mollat was delighted. Fluent in English, Tagalog and Spanish, he engaged the man in lively conversation in Spanish. Everyone relaxed, and the old man regaled them with tales of Chinese life in Latin America, until the Crime Lab people came.
The bullet recovered from the wall confirmed Yuk Sim's statements to Podesta and Simmons in Hawaii.
On Friday night, December 2, 1977, John McKenna, Foley, Lt. Jack Jordan and other officers went to Hotdog's home with a warrant for the boy's arrest. He confessed without hesitation.
Far more sorrowful than the stricken look on Hotdog's face was his parents' expression of dejection and utter disappointment. They were nice people, weary of the constant stream of troubles brought to them by their errant son. As was so often the case, it seemed to be the parents who suffered the most. The cops dealt gently with them and spent more than an hour consoling and explaining what would be taking place after the arrest.
Al Podesta, soon to retire, was especially good at this, known in the Department and among criminals and their families as one who cared for his fellow man. Neither Podesta nor McKenna nor the other policemen with them that night could ever qualify on a charge of "police brutality." They worked hard to prevent crime, but once it was done, they worked equally hard to assuage the wounds crime created.
This attitude extended even to the criminals themselves. When Hotdog was placed in the unmarked Homicide Unit car, Foley opened the rear door and looked hard at the boy. Hotdog lowered his head.
"We've saved your life by making this arrest, Michael," the cop said.
Hotdog nodded.
"People in the street tell me the Joe Boys feel you're a threat to them," Foley went on. "We know you've split with the Wah Ching. There's real danger in that. If you're thinking of joining forces with Big Cookie and his boys, you'd better be careful. It'll just be more war."
Hotdog looked sheepish. "Yeah, a guy could get killed."
On December 5th, Simmons had Hotdog brought down from the jail at the Hall of Justice for an interview. The boy insisted he hadn't meant to shoot Kit. He confirmed everything in Yuk Sim's story, adding that he had taken the cylinder out of the gun before entering Kit's bedroom to threaten her because she had gone out with the Joe Boys. He pulled her out of bed, held the gun to her head and pulled the trigger. A bullet left in the chamber killed her. Samson Tso and Dard Wei "Duck" Chen were present.
Next, the boys had discussed what to do with Yuk Sim Lin. One of them suggested that they kill her, too, so the police would never find out, but Hotdog wouldn't go for it. It was decided to take her to Santa Rosa. After they dropped her off, they came back to San Francisco and picked up Alan Kwan. The four of them went to Duck's apartment late that night to remove the body. They wrapped it in a rug and put it in the trunk of Hotdog's car. Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, where Hotdog had already tossed the gun's pieces into the Bay, they headed for Stinson Beach and rolled the body over a cliff.
Already in custody on unrelated charges when Hotdog was arrested, Samson Tso and Dard Wei "Duck" Chen confessed to their role of helping to dispose of Kit Mun Louie's body. These two were an apt illustration of the repetitive cycles of freedom on the streets and captivity behind bars to which all gang youths fell heir.
Alan Kwan could not be located, having dived for cover into the Los Angeles or New York branches of the Wah Ching. When he returned to San Francisco, no complaint was lodged against him because police and the District Attorney's office were too busy casting for bigger fish in the more important Golden Dragon case to be bothered with a minnow in this one. They figured, as with most of the boys, he would eventually resurface in criminal counterpoint with the law. There would be reason enough to hook him then.
Alone, 21-year-old Michael "Hotdog" Louie prepared to face charges for the killing of the jewelry-loving beauty to whom even death could not deny her favorite jade bracelet.
 

Home · Chapter Six

2000 Brockman Morris