Family of slain dentist adds to reward money

Kin `distraught' by lack of an arrest

November 19, 2006|By Andrea F. Siegel and Anica Butler | Andrea F. Siegel and Anica Butler,sun reporters

Nearly two months after a well-known dentist was found slain in his Glen Burnie office, police say they now suspect that the man was targeted but that they don't yet know why.

No arrests have been made in the death of Albert Woonho Ro, 51, who was found beaten to death the night of Sept. 26 in the townhouse-like Chatham Executive Office Park off Crain Highway. Ro was beaten so severely that police say it was difficult to identify him.

"Indications are that it was not a random incident," said Lt. David Waltemeyer, an Anne Arundel County police spokesman.

Police also believe that more than one assailant was involved, likely two, and indicated that whoever struck Ro was a large person. But police would not elaborate, saying they are continuing to investigate.

Meanwhile, Ro's family is hoping a larger reward will lead to the apprehension of the killers.

Relatives have added $10,000 to a Metro Crime Stoppers reward, bringing to $12,000 the financial incentive for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the people responsible.

Dr. Michael Ro, the victim's brother, said that he and his family are distraught by the lack of an arrest and are beginning to lose hope that the killer will be apprehended.

"I have not heard anything from the detectives. The last time I spoke with them, they said they had solid leads but wouldn't elaborate," said Ro.

"A lot of my family and friends are asking if they caught the guy," he added. "It is a little frustrating, not knowing exactly what is happening. I'd like to know. I wish they would catch the guy."

Their mother is having the most difficult time coping, Michael Ro said.

Dr. Charles Kim, who is married to the victim's sister, said that family gatherings help them deal with the grief, but that "you are never filling the empty space in your heart."

"My mother-in-law said once we [need to] find the murderers who did this crime. ... Forgiving is the next step," Kim said. "But we are looking for justice."

But finding the killer goes beyond the family's peace of mind.

"For society, it will be better," he said.

Kim said that police initially turned down the family's immediate offer to post reward money but recently changed their minds.

"The people responsible -- we are pretty confident they've talked about this," Waltemeyer said.

Albert Ro's parents emigrated with their four children from South Korea in 1970. Ro taught Sunday school and played guitar, and was described by friends as generous to the Korean Society of Maryland and Christian church organizations.

He received his dental degree from the University of Maryland and served as a captain in the Air Force for about three years. After leaving the military, he opened a dental practice in Lutherville, and then a satellite office in Glen Burnie.

The night Ro was attacked, his wife, Susan, grew worried when she was unable to reach him more than two hours after he should have returned to their Hanover home at 7 p.m. The door to his Glen Burnie office was locked, but his car was in the parking lot.

Susan Ro called her mother-in-law, who called Kim. He decided that police should be contacted.

"I figured he had a stroke or a heart attack," Kim said.

As officers, Ro's wife and Kim entered the locked dental office using Susan Ro's key, police shooed the family out.

Investigators estimate that Ro was slain between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. -- a time when some other nearby offices were still open, and when employees at others were leaving -- a time, police say, when someone might have seen something or someone that seemed out of place.

"We are always looking for someone who was in that area who saw a vehicle," Waltemeyer said. "From 5 to 7, the problem with that is the traffic is so heavy in that area."

The five-bedroom Hanover home that Susan and Albert Ro had recently moved into has been put up for sale, and Michael Ro said his sister-in-law has difficulty talking about her husband's death, even with family.

Albert Ro had two grown sons from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.

Another Korean dentist, Paul Yi, has since taken over Ro's practice, Kim said.

Because the crime remains unsolved, workers in the office complex say they are still rattled.

With police not back at the complex lately, "You kind of forget about it. But that doesn't mean I'm not careful," said Ron Watkins, who runs a health care billing office there. "When I leave and I close the door behind me, I make sure it's closed."

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

anica.butler@baltsun.com

The telephone number for Metro Crime Stoppers is 866-7LOCKUP.

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