PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – A 30-year-old man was arrested and charged with allegedly stabbing Matthew Choi to death in southeast Portland last month.
Allen Coe was arrested on Wednesday by the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, Portland police said. Coe was identified as the suspect who attacked Choi, the co-owner of Choi’s Kimchi.
On Oct. 25, Choi was stabbed inside his apartment located on Southeast 12th Avenue just before 2 a.m. The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office says Coe also attempted to murder Choi's girlfriend, who also lived at the apartment.
According to court documents, in the hours prior to the alleged murder, Choi, his girlfriend and friends had gathered to celebrate his birthday.
When the party ended, Choi fell asleep on the couch and his girlfriend went to the bedroom, the attorney's office said. She reported hearing the front door to the apartment close, and when she left the bedroom area to check on the sound, she saw a figure dart from the front door entry toward the bathroom, according to the attorney's office.
Choi’s girlfriend woke him up and Choi went to the bathroom area to investigate, according to the attorney's office. Choi’s girlfriend heard thudding noises coming from the bathroom area and announced she would call police, the attorney's office said.
While on the bed, a person, later identified as Coe, entered the bedroom and tried to stab Choi’s girlfriend, according to court documents. Before he could do so, Choi came in, grabbed Coe and pulled him away, court documents state, with the two of them falling to the ground.
Coe left the apartment, the attorney's office said. Choi’s girlfriend went to him and then saw that he had been stabbed multiple times. Choi died at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.
When the Portland Police Bureau’s Homicide Detail responded to the scene, a green backpack was located in the communal trash room next to Choi’s apartment unit.
Investigators located two separate social security cards inside the green backpack and a yellow sticky note with the names and dates of birth for the two card holders written on it.
Law enforcement checked the names printed on the social security cards and written on the sticky note and determined both individuals lived in the same apartment complex as Choi. Both people reported their social security cards were stolen in a burglary that occurred around Oct. 15, 2020.
Detectives learned Coe is also a resident of the same apartment complex where Choi lived.
During the investigation, law enforcement spoke with Coe about the homicide. While speaking with detectives, Coe spit saliva and phlegm on the ground, which was then collected by detectives for DNA analysis.
The Oregon State Police Crime Lab concluded the swabs taken from each of Choi’s hands during the autopsy contained a DNA mixture. Choi is assumed to be the major contributor to the mixture and the DNA profile developed from the swabs of Coe’s saliva and phlegm cannot be excluded as the minor contributor to the DNA mixture.
Law enforcement reviewed apartment complex surveillance video from the night of the homicide and learned in the hours before the homicide, Coe was wearing the green backpack, which contained the stolen social security cards, found in the trash room next door to Choi’s apartment unit.
When interviewed by police, Coe admitted the video reviewed by investigators showed him wearing the green backpack. He said the backpack was lost at some point and could not explain why it was found hours after Choi’s murder and in the room next to Choi’s apartment.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office determined Choi’s cause of death to be stab wounds to the chest.
The United States Marshals Service arrested Coe on Nov. 18. Coe appeared in Multnomah County Circuit Court for his first appearance and pleaded not guilty to charges. He is due in court again on Nov. 30.
Coe was booked into the Multnomah County Jail and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, unlawful use of a weapon, first-degree burglary and identity theft.
Choi is remembered as an up-and-coming entrepreneur in Portland's food scene.
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