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Cold Case Warms Up

29 September 2005
Phoenix, AZ
I never remembered hearing about this. Sad.

From MyFox Tampa Bay

Cold case warms up
Last Edited: Monday, 23 Jun 2008, 6:45 PM EDT
Created: Monday, 23 Jun 2008, 6:45 PM EDT
Police believe Tim Chanthavong was killed for his car.
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ST. PETERSBURG - A rare, and very fast, red Acura NSX was the pride of Tim Chanthavong's short 22 years of life. It was also, police believe, what cost Chanthavong's life nine years ago this week.

Tim's brother Dar continues a family tradition each year on the murder anniversary. They call out the killer, "come forward," he says, asking "What if that actually happened to them? What if that actually happened to their brother? Being unanswered for 10 years, that is a long time."

It was the family matriarch Sompong Chanthavong who fought for years to find her son's killer -keeping his story in the news year after year.

In June of 2001, she told FOX 13, "I grab my son's clothes and sit down cry. I sit over there about an hour, you know, I just miss my son".

Sadly, cancer would beat her to the truth she so badly wanted.

It was June 24, 1999 and Tim had just bought a CD at the now closed Specs music in St. Petersburg. Police think the speedy Acura was too temping for the killer who carjacked Tim as he left the store. A passing jogger found him wounded, and dying in a driveway a few blocks from the music store.

Detectives, canvassing the neighborhood, got their only lead. Witnesses saw a slight black man driving Tim's beloved car away.

They found it wrecked and abandoned on the south side, and again there were witnesses who, "saw the driver of the car get out and run from the area," said ex-homicide squad detective Mike Puetz, now a major in the St Petersburg Department.

Puetz says leads that have come in in the last two weeks are encouraging.

"I certainly feel better about this situation than I did last year, but we still need some help," he offered.

"I'm not going to give up until they find the person that did it. I'm going to keep doing, and continue on what my mom was doing when she was alive," Dar Chanthavong said.

Can you give a mother her dying wish? If you can, St. Petersburg police would love to hear from you.
I remember this, even mentioned this case awhile back in another thread but didn’t have a link to the story. There are some evil people out there. I hope someone with information finally comes forward.
Incidentally, this was the chief objection that my folks had about the NSX – that some worthless POS would try something like this with me. They worry too much.
Just stumbled upon a new article about this sad ordeal...


Decade after man's death, family still hopes for justice

News Channel 8 photo by TODD DAVIS

Sibling Dar and Kayla Chanthavong haven't given up hope that their brother's killing can be solved.


[email protected]

Published: June 24, 2009


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Previous: Family still waits

Tim Chanthavong

ST. PETERSBURG - As she has done every year over the past decade, Kayla Chanthavong stuffs roughly 200 fliers into envelopes and mails them to homes near where her brother's $40,000 Acura NSX turned up.

The body of her brother, Sonphet "Tim" Chanthavong, then 22, was discovered more than seven miles away from there. Kayla Chanthavong, 33, an executive assistant, has posted fliers at that location, too.

She goes through the exercise in the hopes that it will jog someone's memory, or nudge their conscience, and whoever killed her little brother will be brought to justice.

"That's why I put his face, his innocent, little face, out there," she said this afternoon.

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of one of the more perplexing unsolved homicides in this city's history.

On June 24, 1999, Tim Chanthavong, a mortgage loan officer, purchased a Christina Aguilera CD at a now-closed music store at 2855 66th St. N., and then slipped behind the wheel of his Acura. Ten minutes after the purchase, fewer than 10 blocks away, he was shot to death.

Twelve minutes after that, someone spotted the Acura barreling around a corner at 53rd Avenue South and Seventh Street, where it hit a storm drain, blew a tire and struck an empty car. The car was abandoned five blocks away from that crash.

"You just feel numb," Kayla Chanthavong said. "I wish it was something else but it was just about a car. It's very painful."

"I don't want anyone to forget my brother," she said.

Kayla and Tim's other surviving sibling, Dar Chanthavong, have worked hard to keep their brother's memory alive.

Dar, a business analyst for Bright House Networks, last week set up a Web site memorializing Tim. He's also been in contact with TV's "America's Most Wanted," hoping the show will do a segment on the unsolved homicide. There is also a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

"I just think there are people who may know about it that are afraid to talk about it," said Dar, 29. "How would it feel like if it was their brother who was murdered? That person would like to know who did it as well."

Dar said the suspect might have been someone who knew his brother and merely wanted his car.

"Anybody sees something they like that's nice, they don't want to get out and work for it," Dar said.

Tim Chanthavong has missed much since his death. His mother, who worked tirelessly as a certified nursing assistant to raise reward money, died two years ago of brain cancer. Also, Dar got married and Dar's wife gave birth to Ayden Chanthavong, now 4.

The family got rid of the Acura after it was found abandoned. Tim's mother, Sompong, couldn't stand the sight of it, and Dar couldn't afford to keep up the payments.

Maj. Mike Puetz of the St. Petersburg Police Department said investigators have received leads periodically.

"It is a cold case, but it is not a case that has not had leads," he said.

Investigators have been given the names of a handful suspects, but the information has turned out to be either baseless, or too scant to bring charges against anyone. In one case, an inmate at the Pinellas County Jail was said to have killed Chanthavong with an accomplice, but it turned out the inmate was trying to seem like a formidable criminal among his comrades behind bars.

Oddly, someone tried to steal Dar's Toyota 4-runner in Tampa two years after Tim's death, and Dar said he was shot with a 9 mm bullet in the back as he tried to flee. In his delirium, his sister said, Dar claimed to have seen a bright light and his dead brother's face, even though it was raining at the time.

After Dar's bullet wound was treated and he returned to consciousness, he didn't remember seeing his brother.

Reporter Stephen Thompson can be reached at (727) 451-2336.