WARNING: This story includes talk of child death. Reader discretion is advised.
BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. (WKRG) — In 2008, four kids were thrown off of the Dauphin Island Bridge, killing them all. The man who did it was sentenced to death, but then his sentence changed to life in prison, leaving many people in the community feeling angry. This is the story of Lam Luong.
WKRG News 5 is looking back at the crimes that shocked the Gulf Coast. Lam Luong’s story is the seventh in the series.
Lam Luong was in a relationship with Kieu Luong and were considered common-law married. According to court documents, Kieu said Lam came to the nail salon she worked at around 10 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2008. Lam allegedly asked Kieu for money, at which time she gave him $31 to fill up their van with gas.
Kieu said when Lam left she tried contacting him multiple times but was unsuccessful. At 7 p.m., Kieu was able to get in contact with Lam, who said he has left the kids with “somebody else,” a woman named “Kim.” Later, Kieu and Lam reported to the police that the children were missing.
On Jan. 8, the couple went down to the police station to be questioned by police. They were questioned separately and during this, Kieu asked if she could speak with Lam. At this point, Lam told her that all of their children were dead because he has thrown them off the Dauphin Island Bridge.
Lam Luong had thrown Hannah Luong, 2, Ryan Phan, 3, Lindsey Luong, 1, and Danny Luong, 4 months, off of the 100-foot bridge to their deaths. It took days to find the bodies of the four children. On Jan. 12, Danny’s body was found in a marshy area 12 miles from the bridge. Lindsey’s body was found on Jan. 15 in Mississippi approximately 18 miles from the bridge. On Jan. 20, 144 miles from the bridge in Louisiana, Hannah’s body was found. Ryan’s body was found on Jan. 13, 16 miles from the bridge.
In April 2009, Lam was convicted on five counts of capital murder and was sentenced to death. In 2013, the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals ordered a new trial due to “pretrial publicity,” but in 2014 the Alabama Supreme Court overruled the appeal and upheld Lam’s conviction.
In Jan. 2018, ten years after the killing happened, Lam’s attorney filed a motion citing, a “significant adaptive functioning deficit.” Lam’s defense claimed he was ineligible for execution due to an intellectual disability. Experts with the prosecution and defense found that Lam did have an intellectual disability, therefore his sentence was reduced from the death penalty to life in prison without parole.
At the time of the announcement, many people in the Mobile community were angry. Even the judge at the sentencing reduction said he had no doubt that even though Lam had an intellectual disability he knew what he was doing. The judge said Lam, “richly deserves to die for that,” but that he had to uphold the law.