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Memoir Describes 'Last Dream Broken'

Tragedy: John En, who allegedly shot his family and himself, achieved wealth but longed for marital bliss.

October 23, 1997|SCOTT GLOVER and SOLOMON MOORE | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

PORTER RANCH — Days before John En allegedly killed his family, then turned the gun on himself, his attorney received a manuscript with a chilling title: Last Dream Broken.

The typewritten biography documents En's personal troubles that apparently erupted early Tuesday in the fatal shooting of his wife and 15-year-old son. It is the story of a man who overcame great odds to find financial success far from his homeland but who failed to find a peaceful family life.

Los Angeles police found the body of En, 70, in a second-story bedroom of the family's upscale home, a handgun on his chest. The bodies of his 42-year-old wife, Nancy, and son, Franklin, were downstairs. Authorities say they believe John En did the shooting.

LAPD Det. Marshall White said police are contacting relatives of the dead couple, hoping they can shed light on what neighbors described as a tumultuous relationship.

Notes were found in John En's pocket, on which he scribbled about how unhappy he was about his marriage, White said.

"We believe and are confident that this is a murder-suicide," White said. "There is nothing else to show us that it is anything else at this time."

That theory coincides with En's written autobiography.

His life story begins this way: "I realized many impossible dreams. I reached unreachable stars. Then during my last journey a traitor blew me up into pieces," which was written as a preface to the 31-page document.

The document was received by Westside attorney Marvin Bernstein last week. He said the document was mailed to him "out of the blue." While it did pique his interest, Bernstein said he had no way of contacting En. Nowhere in the document did En ever say that he wanted to harm his family, Bernstein said.

In the autobiography, En described a classic immigrant's tale.

As a young man, he took a steamer across the Pacific Ocean to flee the communists in China, jumping ship off the California coast in 1949, landing in San Francisco and chasing his dream of becoming an inventor in America. He describes years spent looking over his shoulder, an illegal immigrant working as a chauffeur, houseboy and cook to support himself while attending night classes.

Eventually, En earned an engineering degree at Stanford University. According to his memoir, he earned his spot after an admissions committee compared his circuit boards to another created by a Stanford engineering graduate. They judged En's design superior, he wrote.

En worked in the defense industry, eventually earning his U.S. citizenship and qualifying for government security clearance.

But despite his career successes, the one dream En called "my life's last goal"--a happy family--remained elusive, he wrote. He raised three children with his first wife. The couple later divorced.

In his memoir, En blames Nancy, his second wife, for his troubles after she told him in May she, too, wanted a divorce. He accuses her in the document of entering into a loveless marriage only so she could emigrate to the U.S. from Taiwan.

"She was making practical moves to leave as soon as her wings were strong enough for her to fly," En wrote of his wife, nearly 30 years his junior. "For the first time in my life I had no dreams. I realized with a broken heart that I could change neither Nancy nor erase the difference in our ages."

If En was rigid in his expectations of marriage and family, Nancy should have known what to expect.

In his autobiography, En said he met Nancy in 1979, after taking out an ad for a secretary in a Taiwanese newspaper. The ad was a ruse En used to meet hundreds of women, candidates for matrimony.

Nancy, he claimed, was first hired as an assistant for help in arranging interviews and to evaluate candidates. After a yearlong search and numerous trips to Taipei, John En decided on Nancy. The two were married in Taipei City Hall on Feb. 22, 1981.

"She was young and sweet," En recalled. "I treated her like a princess. We were very happy."

But the bliss soon dissolved into suspicion, En wrote. He said Nancy "betrayed" him by telling her sister of their secret plan for Nancy to become a legal U.S. resident so the couple could move to America.

The couple eventually did move to the U.S., where Nancy "was delighted to see Disneyland for the first time," En wrote. "Still, she was unhappy in her heart for having married an older husband . . . She had made up her mind long before to trap and use me as a steppingstone to the U.S. I was doomed. Exasperation, frustration and anger burned deep in my heart."

In court papers, Nancy En said she was the one betrayed.

"I am completely utterly terrified of [John En]," Nancy wrote in a declaration seeking a restraining order against her husband in July. "I moved out of the house after years of physical and emotional abuse . . . primarily directed at me but also, at times, towards our son."

The restraining order was never granted, police said.

She had filed for divorce in August, after separating from her husband in May, according to court papers.

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