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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Attempted-Murder Charge Added in Alleged Abduction

October 12, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A man accused of abducting and molesting a 5-year-old boy faced an additional charge of attempted murder at his arraignment Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Jong Mok Choe, 34, of Los Angeles, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, kidnapping for ransom, committing a forcible lewd act on a child and child abuse.

He is being held on $2 million bail. A preliminary trial hearing was set for Oct. 23.

On Friday, Choe told personnel at a preschool near Koreatown that he was there to pick up the boy on behalf of the child's mother, Los Angeles police said.

He then called the mother and threatened to kill the youngster if she did not pay him $30,000, police said.

The boy was found, confused and disheveled, by rangers at Griffith Park later that evening, police said. A medical examination revealed that the child had been sexually assaulted.

"The child was taken to Griffith Park and pushed over into a ravine," prosecutor Linda Loftfield said in explanation of the attempted murder charge.

Choe was arrested late Friday.

Choe is also charged with attempted kidnapping in connection with a separate incident earlier Friday. Choe tried to take a 3-year-old boy from another preschool but the staff there refused to release the child, authorities said.

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