ROCKVILLE — A Montgomery County man going through a contentious divorce and upset over money he felt he was owed killed his stepdaughter out of anger at the girl’s family, authorities said Wednesday in announcing the arrest in a five-month-old homicide case.
David Rich Hang, who was ordered held without bond during a hearing in which he tearfully proclaimed his innocence, is accused of stabbing 12-year-old Jessica Nguyen more than 40 times in a crime police and prosecutors call brutal and senseless. Her bloody body was found May 31 in a basement bedroom of her family’s Gaithersburg townhome.
He had lived in the home in parts of 2005 and 2006 while married to Nguyen’s mother, but had grown estranged from her, is currently married to at least one other woman and was desperate to end a marriage that authorities say was a sham to begin with, according to police and prosecutors.
Detectives initially found the case mysterious because there were no signs of forced entry in the home.
“We started looking at anyone and everyone who had access to the house,” said Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger.
They soon zeroed in on Hang, 42, ultimately matching his DNA to the sheath of a knife or sword that was found without a matching weapon near the girl’s body, court papers say.
He also called out sick the afternoon of the killing from his job at Montgomery County Ride On, a local transit system, and was observed a day later with a swollen hand, court papers say.
Boot impressions found at the scene were consistent were the same size as his shoe, and cell phone records place him in the neighborhood during the time police believe the killing took place, authorities say.
Hang, who prosecutors say has used different names and moved from state to state, continued to have access to the home despite being estranged from Nguyen’s mother, Khen Kim Vu. The couple had wed in a “sham” arrangement intended to help Nguyen’s mother resolve immigration problems, said prosecutor Stephen Chaikin.
Authorities say Hang had become incensed over fees and payments his estranged wife owed him as part of their marriage.
Hang, who appeared via video hookup for a bond hearing, sobbed as he denied any wrongdoing. “I didn’t do that,” he said after Chaikin recited the allegations of the case.
He later said he had changed his name simply to make it easier for Americans to pronounce and had moved around in search of a decent-paying job.
“I’m a good husband,” he said, later adding, “I work hard and I always show up for work each day.”
Nguyen’s family was ushered out of the courtroom by Chaikin without commenting.
“What troubles me is that you have somebody as cold and heartless as that, who could kill an innocent child,” Manger said at a news conference announcing the arrest.