When the Kennedys and Plumb did not show up for work at Sun Ye Kennedy's China Town restaurant in Brandon on Super Bowl Sunday in 1990, friends started to worry. Upon arrival to their home, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputies found Sun Ye Kennedy, William Plumb, and 15-year-old David Kennedy all dead.
Dan Bendig, HCSO: Death at any level is horrible. Having a 15-year-old boy killed in his bedroom is one of the most horrific things you can do.
A TEENAGER, HIS MOTHER AND HER BOYFRIEND BRUTALLY MURDED IN THEIR HOME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. FOR 12 YEARS THERE HAVE BEEN NO ANSWERS.
AMANDA Granit, Host: Cases like this, can they be solved?
Dan Bendig Yes. Any cold case can be solved. Any investigation can be solved. Everybody makes mistakes. Nothing's perfect. No one's perfect.
Amanda Granit: THE HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE COLD CASE SPECIAL INVESTIGATORS ARE LOOKING OVER THIS CASE, SEARCHING FOR INFORMATION AND HOPING YOU CAN HELP THEM SOLVE THIS UNFINISHED BUSINESS.
My name is Investigator Dan Bendig.>
Amanda Granit: INVESTIGATOR BENDIG MAY BE NEW TO HCSO, BUT HAS DECADES OF EXPERIENCING IN SOLVING CRIMES.
Bendig : I did 25 years in the NYPD. I was a detective for 21 of those 25 years. I worked in active investigations in the 113 Precinct detective squad for almost 12 years, handling everything from aggravated harassment to murders. And then, my last four plus years I worked in the NYPD cold case homicide squad.
Amanda Granit: NOW HE IS PUTTING HIS COLD CASE EXPERIENCE TO THE TEST TRYING TO SOVLE THE MURDERS OF SONY KENNEDY, HER TEENAGE SON,DAVID KENNEDY AND HER BOYFRIEND WILLIAM PLUM.
SONY WAS THE OWNER OF CHINATOWN RESTAURANT. INVESTIGATOR BENDIG TAKES US BACK TO JANUARY 27, 1990 —-
Bendig at about 11 o'clock. She was with her son, David Kennedy, 15 years old, and her boyfriend, William Plum. At about 11 they were seen locking the place up, and they proceeded to go to their home in Valrico.
The next day, employees of the restaurant went to open the restaurant up and found that Miss Kennedy was not there, which was highly unusual because she was always there to open up and let them in
Because Miss Kennedy was always there to open the restaurant, let them in. No one else had a key to the restaurant, and she was always the one to lock up. So it was highly unusual for her not to be there at opening. And the employees knew pretty much right away, then the door was unlocked and she was not there. So that's why they flagged down the deputy.
They find the front of the residence unlocked. They go inside, and like I mentioned, they perform the well-check. And that's when they found David Kennedy, 15-year-old David Kennedy, inside his bedroom deceased, and Miss Kennedy and Mr. Plum inside their bedroom deceased.
Granit: Where does the investigation go from there? You have a family who's found dead in their home. For investigators who are working that scene, what are the next steps to trying to figure out who did this?
To secure the house as a crime scene, obviously. To process this crime scene itself. They processed the Chinatown Restaurant, obviously, because they found it open after she locked up the night before. So technically you had two crime scenes that detectives and investigators worked on. Besides the crime scene itself, they would perform a canvas of the neighborhood to see if there were any eye or ear witnesses to anything suspicious that day, days prior. Upon doing a survey canvas, they found three different neighbors. Two neighbors actually heard gunshots. One heard one gunshot, one might've heard two gunshots, right before and after midnight. And then, one neighbor actually let their dog out, and the dog started barking at the neighbor's house, and noticed that the rear porch light was on at the Kennedy house. Which they found suspicious because it wasn't a normal... backlight was not on, on a normal basis.
So as this case was being worked, was there any indication of what a motive might be for these murders?
Not really. Miss Kenny owned a business, obviously a cash business, and leaving the business at 11 o'clock at night and going home at that time with the night's proceeds, no bank being open. So there was money involved maybe. We don't know that for sure. But it's a business, but no motive.
Amanda Granit: INVESTIGATOR BENDIG HAS TROUBLE WRAPPING HIS MIND AROUND WHY THE MURDER TARGET DAVID, NOT MATTER WHAT THE MOTIVE IS.
Bendig: A 15 year old boy being murdered in his bedroom is... Although all murder is horrible, a 15 year old boy in his bed should not meet his demise with his whole life in front of him, with hopes and dreams. And never knowing what kind of life he could have led, it's a tragedy.
I know one of the things you guys looked at was if anyone heard or saw anything at the restaurant. What did that uncover?
The week prior to the murders, Miss Kennedy had two incidents where a male came in and there was some arguing. And he made a verbal threat to her and made a gesture with his finger of pretending to shoot her. And a day before that, there was three males that came in the restaurant and some sort of dispute happened. And they looked very angry, agitated, and they left the scene. So there was two incidents within a week or so of the murders.
What would you like the public to be thinking about when they think this case?
This case, like so many open homicide cases, no information is bad information. Nothing small, or people to think is minute information, is nothing. Little pieces of information have solved many cases. And you put together a puzzle as investigators, as attorneys do, as state prosecutors do. And unfortunately, every crime is kind of a puzzle. And so if anybody has any information that they thought was nothing at the time, but this many years later said, "You know what? We saw something. We saw a car in the parking lot. We saw people acting suspicious. We saw somebody in another location, making jokes about it, or comments about it." Any information is good information, especially if it can move us in a positive direction.
Dan Bendig :
The incident, obviously it happened between January 27th and January 28th when they were found. But it could have been leading up, through the prior week or two. Anything. I mean, the 27th, it's not a concrete timetable that they were having problems with anybody or issues with anybody or there was something suspicious. Anything, I'd say the week or two prior and maybe a couple of days after, could be information that could help us.
BENDIG IS HOPEFUL THAT SOMEONE WILL COME FORWARD WITH THE PIECE OF INFORMATION THEY’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THAT WILL HELP THEM MOVE THIS CASE FROM COLD TO SOVLED.
Yes. Any cold case can be solved. Any investigation can be solved. Everybody makes mistakes. Nothing's perfect. No one's perfect. So between physical evidence, eye witness evidence, ear witnesses, until the last person that knew anything about it is no longer on this earth, anything can be solved.