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Teen murder suspect whose body washed up on shore was shot in the head

Handy Corner Store in Puyallup, where owner Soon Ja Nam was robbed and murdered. (Q13 News Photo)

TACOMA, Wash. — A 16-year-old boy whose body washed up on shore at the Chinook Landing Marina — and one of two suspects in the robbery and murder of a beloved store owner in Puyallup — was shot in the head, according to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The medical examiner’s office has ruled the death of Franklin Thuo, 16, of Federal Way, a homicide. Investigators said the teen died of a single gunshot wound and had been in the water for several hours. Police have not said whether they have any suspects in the teen’s death.

Thuo was one of two suspects accused of robbing and shooting beloved Handy Corner Store owner Soon Ja Nam Saturday afternoon (April 27).

The second suspect, also 16 years old, was arrested Wednesday morning in a parking lot in northeast Tacoma. Officers arrested the teen and booked him into the Pierce County Jail, but he was transferred to Remann Hall Pierce County Juvenile Detention Center, where he is being held without bail.

Witnesses told investigators two men entered the store, pulled out handguns and threatened the 79-year-old store owner, but even after she gave them the money one of them shot her in the back.

Searching for a better life

Data pix.

Soon Ja Nam escaped from North Korea more than 50 years ago in search of a better life.

Her son, Tohyon Nam, told Q13 that she and her husband made it to South Korea, where Soon Ja Nam became a college professor. Still, she wanted more for her family.

"Through that hardship of occupation, hardship of war, blowing up bombs here, bombs there, she survived all that," Tohyon Nam said. "She brought us here."

Here in Puyallup, over the decades the Nam family made the Handy Corner Store a neighborhood hub, riding on the smiles and kindness of Soon Ja Nam.

"Everyone around here loved her," customer Nancy Prime said. "It's a small area. We all knew her. We all loved her."

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