Community stunned by shootings, fallout
PANORAMA CITY — Drugs, mental illness or revenge, say friends and investigators, are why a troubled young man shot a brother-in-law who treated him like a son and slew a defrocked Greek Orthodox priest who befriended him.
In the predawn hours of July 20, police said, Tu Luong Hua grabbed an AR-15 assault rifle and killed his brother-in-law Yu Huynh, 61, with a volley of bullets at their Panorama City home.
Rifle in hand, he then walked a mile down Van Nuys Boulevard and lured his friend Stanley Adamakis, also 61, out of his bedroom and shot him six times.
The deaths last week shook neighbors of the kindly Huynh. They also led to revelations about Adamakis that shook the faith of members of a Korean church where he helped teach English to immigrant children.
Adamakis, it turned out, was a registered sex offender who served more than seven years in state prison after admitting to molesting adolescent and teenage boys while serving as a priest.
”It appears that at least one of the murders was a revenge killing because (Hua) said he was molested by the victim,” said Los Angeles police Capt. Joe Curreri of the Devonshire Division. ”It is a tragic situation. It is a tragedy for everybody involved.”
Hua, 24, has been charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances that could bring him the death penalty. Scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 6, he is being held without bail in a county jail.
A public defender has not been appointed.
”Tu Luong was mentally ill,” said a family friend who asked not to be identified. ”It is very sad.”
A source close to the investigation said Hua told police he had been up for two days on methamphetamines before the killings.
The gun was recovered near where Adamakis lay in the parking lot of his apartment complex. Six bullet casings lay scattered about 20 feet away from the body.
How the Chinese-American man got mixed up with Adamakis has not been revealed.
Adamakis made headlines in 1990 after he was arrested on charges of sexually molesting an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old he met as a volunteer youth counselor at St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach. He was also charged with violating his probation following a 1986 conviction for molesting two brothers, ages 12 and 13, in Torrance.
”Father Stan,” as Adamakis was known, was depicted in news accounts as a big, blustery barrel of fun who had joined the church in 1988 after losing his job at a San Fernando Valley drug rehabilitation center.
Teens at St. Cross had reportedly called his Boston-accented monologues ”The Tidal Wave.”
Others were said to be wowed by claims he raised big money for Gov. Michael Dukakis in his run for president and been offered a job as White House priest; that he had presided at a wedding for billionaire Aristotle Onassis; and that he had conducted a funeral Mass for actress Natalie Wood — among other unverified boasts.
”I think it was one of those major surprises that this was a guy doing this,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Ron Geltz, who had prosecuted Adamakis on sex-related and delinquency charges.
”It wasn’t like he was out with kids all the time. He was a charismatic guy. He was popular in the church. He had people from the church in court who supported him.”
Following repeated allegations of sexual abuse, Adamakis was banned from ministering by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in 1989 and defrocked the following year after his sentence to nine years and eight months in state prison.
In 1994, a New Mexico man won an undisclosed settlement from the archdiocese in a sexual assault lawsuit.
Bishop Savas of Troas, Greek Orthodox chancellor of the archdiocese in New York City, said Adamakis’ file was ”closed and in storage” and declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Before his death, Adamakis was known to friends and co-workers at Knollwood Auto Body as an example of goodness.
”He was probably the most incredible person I knew,” said May Sagoo, co-owner of the shop, whose family is handling his funeral arrangements. ”Every memory of him, and I’ve known him 10 years, has only been good.”
The Rev. Sung Park of Nasung Presbyterian Church of Koreatown, where Adamakis drove once a week to help with its Sunday youth Bible study group, said he was beloved by the small congregation.
Though he knew little Korean, Adamakis helped church youths with homework, computers, English and weekend camping trips.
”Everybody liked him — a lot of members 60 and 70 years old, they liked him a lot,” Park said. ”But I never knew he was in jail. He didn’t have any problem with any boy; he didn’t have any problem at the church.
”I feel sorry about him. He was a very nice man.”
Hua, referred to as ”Tu Luong” by his friends and neighbors, lived with his aging brother-in-law in a rundown, ranch-style home shared with a family of four tenants.
Huynh, an unemployed electronics assembler, had taken in his troubled ”nephew” after Hua’s sister, his wife, died.
Hua, unable to work or drive because of his illness, liked to watch the Discovery Channel when not riding his bike or heading out to the driveway to smoke.
”Yu loved Tu Luong like a son,” said a friend of the family who has known them 20 years. ”They had family far away, they only had each other. You don’t understand the shock it was that Tu Luong had (allegedly) shot his brother (in law).”
Hua had shown off a handgun and bragged about his rifle, said Maggie Briones, 69, a neighbor who often gave Hua a cigarette.
”He acts like he’s 16 — like he doesn’t know his age,” she said.
Briones said she told Huynh about the guns.
”He said, ‘Maggie, I don’t know what to do with him — he has a mental problem.”’
On the morning of the shooting, Briones said, she saw Hua sitting outside following a barrage of gunfire at exactly 3:27 a.m. Soon afterward, she said, she saw him head toward Van Nuys Boulevard.
”I’m shocked. I’ve never seen anything like this. … I don’t understand, oh my Lord,” she said.
An advocate for sexual abuse victims of Orthodox priests raised concerns about Adamakis’ behavior in recent years.
”I strongly suspect that more children were hurt in the last few years he was out of prison,” said Melanie Jula Sakoda, co-founder of Pokrov.org, a grass roots group based in San Francisco.
”It’s too bad society can’t find a way of dealing with these offenders. … I sometimes think in these cases, one strike and you’re out.”