A year later, family searching for answers in Chamblee man’s disappearance

78-year-old paraplegic hasn’t been seen since September 2019
Daniel Kwon has been missing since September 2019. He was last seen at his Chamblee home and police suspect foul play in his disappearance.

Credit: DeKalb County Police Department

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Daniel Kwon has been missing since September 2019. He was last seen at his Chamblee home and police suspect foul play in his disappearance.

Credit: DeKalb County Police Department

Daniel Kwon left his Chamblee home the afternoon of Sept. 3, 2019, and never came back. More than a year later, the 78-year-old’s daughters are pleading for answers in their dad’s disappearance.

DeKalb County investigators suspect foul play in the case, but as of Friday, no arrests have been made.

A mostly private man, Kwon, a paraplegic, used an electric wheelchair to get around. His daughter, Katherine Kwon, told investigators she and her sister were able to track his cellphone to an area near Sugarloaf Mills Mall in Lawrenceville, but the phone battery died before they could find him.

Kwon had friends in neighboring Gwinnett County, but his daughters didn’t know their names or where they lived, according to a DeKalb police report from last year.

Two days after his disappearance, DeKalb investigators received a call from Gwinnett police. Kwon’s wheelchair, backpack and minivan were discovered at the Sugarloaf Summit apartments along Duluth Highway, about a quarter mile from the shopping mall.

According to police, Kwon’s daughters were searching for their father in the complex when they came across his Honda Odyssey parked in front of the 300 building and called 911. A neighbor told police she had seen the van parked there several times before and directed them to apartment 320, according to a Gwinnett police report.

The tenant who lived in the apartment, identified by police as Mi Young Jeon, eventually opened the door. Inside, officers saw Kwon’s motorized wheelchair propped up inside her home. The woman, a preacher’s wife, told officers she knew Kwon from church and that he came by regularly to get out of his house and eat her homecooked meals, the report said.

Jeon seemed afraid that police were questioning her, officers noted, and told detectives that Kwon “left with some friends" two days earlier and that she didn’t know where they went, according to the report.

At a news conference held Friday afternoon, DeKalb police Capt. Theodore Golden confirmed Jeon has been identified as a “person of interest” in the case, but said investigators haven’t uncovered enough information to make an arrest in Kwon’s disappearance.

Grace Kwon, the missing man’s other daughter, said her father wouldn’t have been able to get far without his wheelchair or van. She also said he requires medication each day, and worries about what may have happened to him.

“We are waiting painfully for him to be returned back to us safely,” Grace Kwon told reporters. “This is definitely unlike him and it doesn’t make sense to us because we know our father.”

Credit: Shaddi Abusaid / shaddi.abusaid@ajc.com

Credit: Shaddi Abusaid / shaddi.abusaid@ajc.com

Both DeKalb police and the man’s daughters said they hope someone will come forward and shed light on what happened.

“Based on the information conducted by our detectives, we have reason to believe Mr. Kwon’s disappearance was not of his own free will, and we need to locate him as soon as possible," Golden said, adding that police believe multiple people were involved.

Police also said a “large sum” of money was taken from Kwon’s bank account after he went missing, though an exact amount was not disclosed. His daughters said they believe the missing funds are directly connected to the disappearance.

“Please help us find our father and bring him home,” Katherine Kwon pleaded through tears. “We really miss him, we really love him and we just want him back.”

Anyone who knows Kwon’s whereabouts or has information about the case is asked to call DeKalb’s Special Victims Unit or 911. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for a cash reward, by contacting Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.

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