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At the end of January, Dallas police asked for the public’s help in identifying a woman whose badly decomposed body was found near boarded-up apartments along a densely forested stretch of east Oak Cliff. Cops discovered the body six days earlier, but had no name and couldn’t discern her age — maybe, they said, she was in her 30s or 40s. All they had to go on was a tattoo on her right forearm that looked like a semi-colon carved into her flesh — a message of support for those struggling with depression and addiction.
An officer in the Northwest Patrol Division recognized the ink in sketches and identified the woman, who was only 20. In a recent court filing, she is identified only as L.R. Authorities have never publicly named her; her family, scattered across the country, never gave her an obituary.
The officer knew L.R., a Louisiana native, because she was a longtime resident at the Han Gil Hotel Town on Dennis Road.
The feds on March 7 raided the place and have indicted 10 people — owner Amos Mun among them — on drug-related charges. Prosecutors said that for two years the Han Gil was a shooting gallery — a place full of drugs, trafficked women, torture, murder and overdoses.
Mun, who remains in federal custody, has pleaded not guilty. But four of his co-defendants have now admitted to their roles in making the Han Gil into Hell on Dennis Road. And with each guilty plea comes new details about the brutality that occurred inside.
Federal prosecutors know plenty about what happened there; they have digital recordings from residents and Mun. Prosecutors say they will never see another case like the Han Gil in their lifetime. At least they hope they won’t.
The Han Gil has become so synonymous with rising crime in my part of northwest Dallas that former Mayor Laura Miller, running for Jennifer Staubach Gates’ seat on the Dallas City Council, includes its picture in campaign literature. She even blamed this "neighborhood nightmare" on her rival’s inaction, though the Han Gil sits on council member Omar Narvaez’s side of Dennis, blocks from Herbert Marcus Elementary.
City attorneys last year sued the hotel for code violations, and police had visited repeatedly. But the raid came only after Coppell police, who were investigating a handful of overdose deaths connected to the hotel, called in the feds.
The death of L.R., whose last known address was in Paris, Texas, is one of many chapters in this horrific story.
In guilty pleas filed last week, Carlos Hernandez says that two days after Christmas 2018 L.R. overdosed in the bathroom of Room 342 at the Han Gil. She remained there for at least several hours.
The sketch of "L.R." police sent to media on Jan. 30, six days after the 20-year-old’s badly decomposed body was discovered in east Oak Cliff.
Hernandez says in court documents that co-defendant Erick Dewayne Freeman, a dealer who went by "Stuff," eventually wrapped L.R.’s body in a comforter; then he had Hernandez and another person carry the body to a waiting vehicle. Hernandez says the woman’s body was driven to "a secluded area of Dallas" and "dumped in the woods by Freeman."
Freeman has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces.
But in court documents filed last week, Kimberly Robinson, another Han Gil defendant, confirmed Hernandez’s account, saying she was there.
And just last Monday, Kendrick Washington, known as "Kiki," filed paperwork in which he admitted to selling drugs at the Han Gil. An undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent was among Washington’s buyers, procuring 112 grams of heroin from the dealer.
Washington admits to acting as "an enforcer on behalf of Freeman," and using "tactics designed to instill fear and intimidation in individuals that Freeman believed had stolen from him or owed him money." In the same room where L.R. died, Washington says, Freeman fired a gun at someone he accused of stealing his crack. Washington also used a cell phone "to record Freeman torturing the victim with a butane blowtorch," according to the court documents.
"Washington then showed the video to numerous individuals inside the Han Gil Hotel," says the filing.
In court documents, Washington says, too, that after he learned one of Freeman’s own workers had been shot inside a "trap" room at the Han Gil, Washington "brandished his handgun and fired multiple shots down the corridor of the hotel" toward one of the rooms.
The first Han Gil defendant to plead guilty was Kristie Leigh Mancha, 27. She admitted April 5 to possessing heroin to sell — for the man nicknamed "Stuff."
On Tuesday morning, a U.S. marshal escorted Mancha into a downtown Dallas courtroom. She wore a faded orange sweatshirt and matching pants; her hair was the same washed-out shade, except at the roots, which were black. Her hands were cuffed to a chain around her waist.
She stood with her attorney, James Bright, and told Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez she was pleading guilty to a single count of possessing heroin with the intent to distribute. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison — but the plea was in her best interest, Bright said.
We are only now beginning to know what happened at the Han Gil, and who lived there. A few weeks ago a woman, who said she was a 41-year-old accountant, told me in an email that she had lived there. She called the hotel "an addict’s paradise with endless dope and countless ways to obtain it even if you didn’t have the cash."
And in late March I received a pay-phone call from a 29-year-old Carrollton man who said he had lived there too, among the "homeless and rich." He said he knew of several women, including L.R., who had gone missing.
The Han Gil is now overgrown with weeds and piled up with trash; its doors are wide open, and some windows are boarded up while others are missing. Last week someone smashed all the toilets, causing thousands of gallons of water to pour out of the back until the city cut it off. Tacked to the front are three brightly colored code-violation notices.
When I visited the shuttered hotel this week, I also saw a plywood board tacked up over the front door. In black electrical tape, someone wrote "R.I.P. Sir Cream" and left candles and balloons. Several people have signed the plywood; one person wrote, "GO TILL DA WORLD BLOW."
Authorities say they do not yet know who Sir Cream is. Or was.
Other unanswered questions and mysteries — such as how many people actually died there — persist. On Wednesday, KDFW-TV (Channel 4) said police are looking for Jonathan Pitts, known as "P-Money," in connection with the previously unreported Jan. 29 shooting death of a man who went by Big Youngster. Police say the two got into an argument at the Han Gil, and that Pitts shot the man before grabbing his dog and driving off in a white Chevy Tahoe.
Assistant City Attorney Andrew Gilbert said this week that "the city is currently working with the owner’s representatives seeking to demolish the building," but he doesn’t know how long that will take.
Meanwhile, along Dennis Road off Royal Lane, prostitutes still walk the street, and drugs are still being sold.
Everything has changed. And nothing is different.