HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The woman accused of trying to cover up a double homicide in the Heights area in January returned to court Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, officials believe the men accused of capital murder have fled the country.
Kathy Vu, 23, is accused of tampering with evidence. Earlier, a probable cause court judge had set bail for her at $40,000.
During her appearance on Tuesday, the court ordered her to hand over her passport and wear an ankle monitor.
Investigators say Vu’s boyfriend Polie Phan, 26, and Jaidan Vu Nguyen, 25, shot two men earlier this year over a narcotics dispute. They’re wanted by the Houston Police.
Jaiden Nguyen, left, and Polie Phan, right, have been identified as two murder suspects linked to the deaths of two men on TC Jester.
Houston Police Department
Polie Phan, left, and Jaiden Nguyen, right, are shown in other photos released by HPD.
Houston Police Department
Officials say Vu bought cleaning supplies and cleaned up the crime scene. Vu’s lawyer says she collected the supplies at her boyfriend’s direction.
“The two defendants who are currently charged with capital murder, we believe both fled the country and are living internationally at this time,” said Samantha Knecht of the Harris County District Attorney’s office.
Vu’s attorney, Coby DuBose, specifically said that the two wanted men were believed to have fled to Vietnam.
“They think he’s going to leave the country. There’s no evidence whatsoever. If he wanted to flee, he could have done so. He didn’t. He’s here,” DuBose said. “We’re excited, honestly, to spend our day in court and see these facts being more developed in a way that I feel is right.”
DuBose said he believes Vu and Phan’s relationship was relatively new. He said Vu’s family just met Phan for the first time during the holidays.
HPD was called to the 1700 block of West TC Jester on Friday, January 27, due to a neighbor who was concerned that a Toyota Prius was racing inside a garage at around 8:30am
Dana Ryssdal, 35, was found dead at home while her friend, 37-year-old James Martin III, was reported missing along with a white Dodge Ram truck that belonged to Ryssdal.
Three days later, on January 30, that truck was found in southeast Houston, but Martin was not located. It wasn’t until Feb. 1 that Martin’s body was found in the trunk of the Prius in an HPD impound lot, where he was towed for evidence processing. Police said Martin’s body was bound with duct tape and he had been shot multiple times.
Houston Police said a HEB receipt from the day of the killings helped lead investigators to Vu.
Police said they found bottles of bleach and iodine in the back of Vu’s car and a HEB receipt from the day of the murders, which showed he had bought trash bags, towels and other items he would use to clean up the crime.
According to the documents, the motive behind the murder appears to be drug-related, as police reported finding “marijuana in various places in the residence” and cash packages totaling $35,980 found in the freezer.
A search warrant says Ryssdal and Martin were in the business of harvesting marijuana in Oregon, where it is legal.
Court documents state that during an interview with Vu, she said Martin had a history of threatening many people, including her boyfriend.
“If anything, because people don’t want to pay him back. If anything had happened, it would definitely have been self-defense,” he told authorities.
She told investigators that Martin owed her boyfriend $40,000 “after a narcotics-related transaction didn’t go as planned.”
However, court documents reveal that police believe Martin and Phan were having an affair and that Phan owed Martin money.
Vu said the night of the murders, she was planning a business dinner and wanted her boyfriend to go with her, but he didn’t attend “because emergencies arose.” She denied knowing what happened between her boyfriend and Martin.
However, court documents say Vu was texting and talking to her boyfriend before, during and after Martin’s murder.