Victims of Dangerous House Calls: Dr. Kim Fang
Mesa Kasem was working for Somerset Auction House as a deliveryman and had been inside some of the Bay area’s most expensive homes. In November of 1999, Kasem made a delivery to Dr. Fang’s home. On January 4, 2000, Kasem and Soknoeum Nem returned to the Fang home with the intent to rob the family. They were armed and arrived at the home just as the family was getting ready to eat dinner. The couple’s young children were home as well as the wife’s brother and the family nanny.
When Kim’s wife opened the door that night, the two men barged in and started beating her, her brother, and the nanny. Dr. Kim Fang was upstairs and retrieved his loaded gun when he heard the screams and commotion. As he came downstairs he shot and killed Mesa Kasem. Kasem’s partner in crime, Nem, shot Dr. Kim Fang twice in the back. They were able to subdue Nem and tie him up before any more damage was done. Dr. Kim Fang died later that night at the hospital while his wife underwent surgery to remove a bullet from her chest.
Nem was a Stockton gang member and was found guilty of murder during an attempted robbery and burglary in 2002. Mesa Kasem was also a gang member and convicted felon. No background check or employment screening was ordered prior to hiring him.
Jim Murphy, Somerset’s manager, said Kasem had been a warehouse man at the auction house from Aug. 31 to Dec. 17, loading merchandise and making a “minimal” number of home deliveries. Kasem filled out an application and gave a few references that turned out to his friends, Murphy said.
Somerset does not ask applicants about convictions, Murphy said, and as a result “we did not know that he had been incarcerated.” Somerset believed that “the law prevents us from asking” about convictions, he said.
This horrific case can teach us many things. First of all- once a stranger has been given access to your home, they have had a glimpse of your personal belongings, and they have made an assessment of your wealth. If this service worker (could be a pizza deliveryman, a carpet cleaner, a plumber, an exterminator, or in this case an auction deliveryman) has a criminal past, your wealth will incentivize them. They now know your address, what your key belongings are, and maybe even your daily routine.
Had the auction company performed a background check, they would have seen Kasem’s prior convictions, and they would have realized that sending him into consumers’ homes was a poor business decision. A background check would have saved Dr. Kim Fang’s life and spared his family the tragedy of watching him die.
A more practical tip for all of us as consumers is to always check who is at your door before opening your home to them. Make sure you have a peephole or window nearby so that you can see who is behind the door. These men might have still forced their way in, but knowing who they are at least gives a warning to your family.
This is a wake up call to all those who feel better protected because they are wealthy or live in a nice neighborhood. These dangerous service workers were after wealth, and they positioned themselves in the perfect jobs to find it. Violent crimes can happen anywhere- in any type of neighborhood.
Previous Posts in this series:
Post : + Intro
Post: Ask a friend over for coffee
Post: Trust is earned
Post: Protect yourself in the workplace
Post: Beware of referral services
Post: Violent crimes can happen in any type of neighborhood