black polo v neck Goddess’ Led A Life Of Fraud
Kelmer “Kelly” Beck, a 32 year old with a deep tan and a blond ponytail, was a personal trainer who spent his free time surfing and training for Hawaii’s renowned Ironman Triathlon.
It was a four month romance that Beck still describes as idyllic.
“She was a princess sent from heaven,” Beck said. “She’s got a charisma, a charm that’s just intoxicating. . . . We lived four years of excitement in four months.”
But their affair ended abruptly on the morning of Jan. 28 when Escada hurriedly packed a bag and rushed off because of undisclosed “family problems,” Beck said.
As Beck later learned, family problems were the least of it.
Tiffani Escada was really Catherine Suh, a Chicago woman who fled to Hawaii in September to avoid a trial for plotting the 1993 murder of her boyfriend.
Prosecutors went ahead with her trial anyway, and in an extraordinary move, Suh was convicted in her absence and sentenced to life in prison.
She is also suspected of killing her mother in 1987 by stabbing her 37 times in the neck and head.
For several months, though, Suh lived a life of obscurity and leisure in Hawaii, spending her days at the beach and her nights on the town. She was planning to go to the opera the night of Jan. 27 when her charade crumpled.
While Beck was out getting a pizza, Suh saw herself featured on a segment of “America’s Most Wanted.” She fled the next morning and remained at large for nearly six weeks. Finally, paranoid and suicidal, she turned herself in to the FBI.
Suh is currently in a Honolulu prison awaiting extradition back to Chicago and could not be contacted for comment.
Her arrest ended a decadelong odyssey in which she lived under assumed names, fashioned herself an aristocrat and so bewitched some men that they considered the holes in her life story mysterious rather than suspicious.
Beck was only the latest in a long list of men who were duped by Suh’s charms. She coaxed others into subsidizing her jet set lifestyle, signing over life insurance policies and committing crimes on her behalf.
She even conned her dentist in Honolulu to give her a discount by employing “a little girl voice” and “a pouty lip.”
“She kind of exudes sex appeal,” said Dr. Jonathon Cross,
who removed Suh’s wisdom teeth but was never paid. “She definitely seemed like the type of person who would use her manipulative powers to get what she wanted.”
But Suh’s former boyfriends and others who knew her are at a loss to explain how a Catholic schoolgirl from the Northwest Side was transformed into a murderous femme fatale.
“She told a lot of stories,” said Chicago Police Sgt. William Johnston. “She was just basically motivated by greed. She fashioned herself to be a princess, and she needed the money to go along with it.”
Suh was born Hae Sung Seu in South Korea and immigrated with her family to Chicago’s upscale Sauganash Park neighborhood when she was 7. Her parents, Yoon Myunt and Elizabeth Suh, were devout Catholics who ran a chain of dry cleaning stores.
Suh’s father died when she was a teenager, and her relationship with her mother grew contentious because her boyfriend, Robert O’Dubaine, wasn’t Korean.
On Oct. 6, 1987, Suh’s mother was murdered and left under a pile of clothes in the back of her Evanston dry cleaning store. Later that day, investigators arrived at the Suh home to find the normally tidy house in disarray and Elizabeth Suh’s portrait turned upside down above the mantle, Johnston said.
Catherine Suh was labeled a prime suspect. But she was never charged because O’Dubaine told police that he was with Suh the morning her mother was slain.
Elizabeth Suh’s death gave her daughter a new life. She inherited about $800,000 and didn’t hesitate to put the money to use.
Suh and O’Dubaine rehabbed homes and purchased a Glenview nightclub, naming their businesses Princess Entertainment and Queen’s World Investments. Suh developed a taste for designer clothes, Stolichnaya vodka and cocaine, while O’Dubaine abandoned jeans and beer for three piece suits and martinis, Johnston said.
But their relationship had started to fizzle by the summer of 1993, when Suh launched a scheme to kill O’Dubaine to collect his $250,000 life insurance policy and to keep her alibi intact.