PHILADELPHIA – A fugitive who fled the United States weeks before his 1998 murder trial was being brought back to Philadelphia on Tuesday — and prosecutors wouldn't mind finding the father they believe helped him.
David Heyon Nam, an American-born child of wealthy South Korean immigrants, had flunked out of several juvenile court programs by the time he turned 19, prosecutors said. He and three juveniles were looking for an easy target to rob one hot summer night in 1996 when they spotted 75-year-old Anthony Schroeder watching TV with the door open in his North Philadelphia home, authorities said.
Schroeder came to the door with a handgun, prompting Nam to shoot him once with a rifle through the screen, District Attorney Lynne Abraham said.
"Before he said word one, he shot him through the screen ... leaving Mr. Schroeder to die on the floor," Abraham said at a news conference Tuesday morning, as four of Schroeder's nieces and nephews beside her grimaced.
Nam's father, Gi Nam, was vice president of a suburban Philadelphia textile company and posted $100,000 cash toward his son's $1 million bail. He and his wife later returned to South Korea, where their son used several aliases and moved frequently over the years.
The father — who remains on the hook for the remaining $900,000 surety he posted — would be charged with aiding and abetting if he ever returns to the U.S., Abraham said.
In 1999, David Nam surrendered to South Korean authorities after he was featured on a TV show there about fugitives. He was released because the U.S. had no formal extradition treaty with South Korea at the time and, by the time that changed, he had gone back into hiding.
Nam was married and a father by the time the FBI captured him near Seoul in March. He denied being the fugitive they sought, but the tattoos "Nam" and "Solid" — his street name as a Philadelphia teen — and fingerprints on a beer bottle the FBI found in his trash proved otherwise, authorities said.
Nam was expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon at Philadelphia International Airport and be transferred from FBI custody to Philadelphia police.
Three 14-year-old accomplices who pleaded guilty to third-degree murder named Nam as the shooter. Their testimonies remain the base of the prosecution's case, Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson said in March, when Nam's capture was announced.
Schroeder, a bachelor, was retired from a career at an Acme supermarket warehouse. One of 11 children in a poor family, his mother died when he was 6. He was one of five Schroeder brothers to serve in World War II, including one who died in France on Christmas Day.
"He never had a break in his life. He lived through the Depression. He had nothing compared to what this kid (Nam) had," said niece Jane O'Connor, 78, of Stratford, N.J.
Nam is eligible for the death penalty, but as part of the agreement to extradite him, prosecutors agreed not to seek his execution. If convicted of first-degree murder, Nam would be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.