Two years ago a brutal murder shook the Cambodian community of San Francisco and tore apart the lives of two families, who had once been as close friends and neighbours.
When Piseth Chhay left his wife and two children on May 14, 2017, they never believed it would be the last time that they saw him.
It was mother’s day, and San Francisco based Piseth, an Uber driver, had driven off in his Mercedes-Benz, supposedly to return a phone left in his car by a customer. His own phone later went dead and the vehicle GPS was turned off.
The Mercedes was found a few days later, stripped of parts in an industrial part of Bayview district, San Francisco. Local homeless people, said the car had been sat there for some time.
Despite frantic efforts by his family, Piseth remained missing until police were called to a warehouse in Hayward, California, following complaints of bad odours in June 2017. A police dog unit discovered body parts stuffed in bags, which were later confirmed as Piseth through DNA samples.
The prime suspect in what had now become a murder case was ‘Bob’ Tang (also known as Poev and Bob Tov), a dual US-Cambodian citizen, who was a very close friend to the deceased. Tang, at the time aged 48, had been working at the US Trading Co. warehouse where the body parts had been unearthed for more than 20 years. The business was run by members of his family.
Tang, already a person of interest before Piseth had been found, agreed to attend a voluntary police interview on May 24, 2017. He failed to show up, and his silver Toyota was later found in the cark park of San Francisco International Airport. His wife last saw him on May 22 of that year.
Piseth’s wife, Rattana Kim was devastated by the news that the family’s close friend ‘Uncle Bob’ may have been involved in her husband’s murder. “Why is it someone who we consider a brother or a uncle? Why would he do that, especially when you have your own family, two sons of your own?” Kim said.
Police later revealed that the suspect had taken a flight to Cambodia, the country of his birth and a place where he still has connections.
Rattana Kim told CNE that Bob Tang was already a wealthy businessman in the USA and owned several properties. It is possible he is still involved with export business in Cambodia, perhaps with partners.
For over two years the exact whereabouts of Tang have been unknown, and without an extradition agreement between the countries, there is little chance of justice being served.
Meanwhile, for the family of Piseth Chhay, the heartbreak of losing a husband and father continues, along with the anger that the prime suspect is still a free man.