What’s On

Killer with no legs on the run for 10 years

By Phuc Hung   May 5, 2016 | 06:26 pm GMT+7

Greed and anger over a real asset dispute with his younger brother led Quach Van Kha to burn his sibling's house, killing him and his wife. Following the double murder, Kha went on the run and was in hiding for ten years before the long arm of the law finally caught up with him.

“He disappeared as if by magic. No one could explain how a man with no legs escaped hundreds of police. Not a trace was found,” an investigating officer said.

One night in 2001, Kha locked his brother’s front door and set fire to his house. Hearing the screaming, neighbors rushed to save the couple, but there efforts were in vain as the only door was locked.

The couple burned alive.

Kha lost both his legs in the American War and moved around with the use of two small wheels tied to his knees. He attended the funeral and pretended to grieve so that no one would suspect him. However, small burns on his arms were noticed by the police. Kha told them he had burned himself with a lighter, but knew his nervous face would give him away. That night, he stole away on his boat taking nothing with him but the shirt on his back.

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Quach Van Kha. Photo courtesy of police

Hundreds of police set up road blocks and patrolled the river in motorboats to catch the murderer, but he simply disappeared.

Kha only travelled by night, and hid in the bushes during the daytime drinking coconut water and eating fruit he found along the river.

After paddling hundreds of kilometers from the village, he stopped off to ask some families to offer him a meal. He pretended to be a miserable fisherman who had lost all his possessions and couldn't find his way home.

After that, Kha worked on fishing boats in exchange for food and a small salary. Some months later, he won VND8 million ($354) on the lottery, and used it to buy a big boat and get married.

He never got in touch with his former wife, children or relatives again. “The old me had died. I was born again in a completely new life. I am a completely different person,” the murderer said to police after he was arrested.

Nearly 10 years after the murder, Tran Thanh Tung, a policeman who had worked on the case, accidentally bumped into Kha while investigating another case in the province where Kha was hiding.

Tung recalled the murder he investigated 10 years before and immediately asked locals about Kha. “Kha, I know it is you,” Tung said. The murderer was surprised that someone knew his real name.

He was later arrested to the surprise of his wife and locals, and sentenced to death after 10 years on the run.