Crime - Sacto 911

Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What became of engineer accused of strangling two wives?

In the early 1990s, I worked at the Department of Water Resources, Division of Planning. A colleague was an engineer that I believe was from Vietnam. One day he was arrested for killing his wife – strangling her with a telephone cord. Shortly after this we also heard that he had killed his first wife. I can’t recall hearing any more about this or what became of him.

– DB, Sacramento

Luu Huu Dung, a Vietnamese American immigrant and engineer who once taught college courses in San Francisco, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the the 1992 slaying of his second wife at their El Dorado Hills home.

According to a story in The Sacramento Bee, Dung admitted strangling Cuc Kiem Nguyen, 45, on May 30, 1992, a few hours before his in-laws arrived for dinner. He told investigators that after killing her, he attempted suicide by jumping into nearby Folsom Lake.

Authorities noted that Dung previously had gone to prison on a manslaughter charge for the 1983 strangling of his first wife, Nhulan “Giselle” Pham, co-proprietor of the Mill Valley bakery where her body was found. Dung, who blamed that slaying on domestic problems, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison. He served less than three years with time off for good behavior, authorities said.

Dung had been married about a year to his second wife. During that marriage, he told detectives and psychiatrists, he was continually haunted by the voice of his first wife.

An El Dorado County Superior Court judge initially ruled that Dung was mentally unfit for trial and ordered him to the state hospital system for evaluation and treatment. Once he was deemed able to understand court proceedings and assist in his own defense, Dung was returned to the custody of the court.

Under the plea agreement, he was sentenced to 21 years to life in prison. Now 74 years old, Dung is at the California Healthcare Facility in Stockton.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.