Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fort Lee, NJ: Rocky relationship, tragic end: Boyfriend charged in Fort Lee killing known for angry outbursts

The ups and downs of Aena Hong’s tumultuous relationship with Charles J. Ann were clear to virtually anyone who came into passing contact with the young couple.

Law enforcement officers leave the building where Aena Hong lived.

Charles Ann is accused of repeatedly running over the woman, Aena Hong.
Hong and Ann recently signed a lease on a one-bedroom apartment in a Fort Lee high-rise. But a doorman at the building recalled witnessing a physical altercation between the two, and a neighbor said Hong backed out of the living arrangement. A teacher at the language school where Hong was taking classes said Ann stormed into a classroom one day and angrily tossed an envelope stuffed with money on the table in front of her.

Still, one woman who knew Hong and Ann said she had seen the pair holding hands as recently as a couple of days ago.

The rocky relationship ended brutally Monday afternoon, authorities said, when Ann got into his car and deliberately ran Hong over as she was crossing a Fort Lee street. He drove back and forth over her body several times before fleeing to Queens, where he was arrested the following morning, authorities said.

Ann, 26, is now in custody awaiting extradition to Bergen County, where he faces murder charges. Those who knew Hong, 25, are grieving the loss of a young woman whom they described as sweet, friendly and an excellent student.

Authorities said Ann and Hong were arguing as they walked on the sidewalk on Inwood Terrace outside the Jack Alter Fort Lee Community Center around 5 p.m. Monday. Ann got into his car, a 2011 Hyundai Sonata, and drove away, but John L. Higgins III, the first assistant Bergen County prosecutor, said he turned around, cutting through a parking lot, and returned to Inwood Terrace, where he came to a complete stop. When Hong stepped into the street to cross it, Ann rapidly accelerated and struck her, Higgins said.

“Once she fell to the ground, he drove over her and drove back over her approximately three times,” Higgins said.

Ann fled and abandoned the car, which investigators found on 10th Avenue a few hours after the attack, authorities said. Accident investigators determined that the Hyundai, registered to Ann, was the car that had struck and killed Hong, whom police found gravely injured in the middle of the road after receiving several 911 calls from distraught eyewitnesses.

One of them, Nazaret Manoukian, who lives across from the community center, had just gotten out of his car and witnessed a scene he described bluntly as “horrifying.”

“It happened in front of me,” he said. “The guy ran over the girl. He backed up again. It happened really quick.”

After the car struck her a third time, the driver drove onto the sidewalk and briefly got stuck, Manoukian said.

The driver, he said, appeared to be on a mission “to finish her.”

Hong was taken to Holy Name Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead just before 6 p.m.

Investigators tracked Ann, an unemployed Bergen Community College student, to a friend’s apartment in the Flushing section of Queens, where he was arrested around 4 a.m. Tuesday. He was charged with first-degree murder and was being held in Queens on $3 million bail. Prosecutors said they are waiting on an extradition waiver from New York.

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