The shots heard ringing out from a garage of a Chicago home on an autumn night in 1993 launched what would become one of the city’s most infamous and winding murder investigations — unearthing two killer siblings’ dark family history and leading a brother to reconsider his sister’s role in the brutal death of their mother years before.
The blood-soaked body of 31-year-old Robert O’Dubaine, a local bar owner, was found in the garage of his Bucktown two-flat on Sept 25, 1993 after a neighbor reported hearing gunfire. He’d been shot twice, and his wallet and keys were missing.
Investigators at the scene soon discovered O’Dubaine’s Jeep Wrangler abandoned on a nearby residential street, but the vehicle provided no critical evidence in the case. Also of concern to investigators was the whereabouts of his live-in girlfriend and business partner, Catherine Suh.
Catherine, who was seven years O’Dubaine’s junior, was born in South Korea to a traditional family. She and her parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1976 and settled into the northwest side of Chicago along with her bright younger brother, Andrew.
As Chicago Tribune reporter Christy Gutkowski told producers, when Catherine was a child, her father would threaten and beat her. At one point, young Catherine allegedly fought back and scratched him, drawing blood. She said that he was so irate that he allegedly doused himself and his daughter in gasoline and threatened to kill them for the family honor — until her mother intervened.
“Some of the rage that her father had was part of Catherine’s make-up too,” Hellman said.
In 1986, their father developed stomach cancer. He died when Andrew was 11 and Catherine was 16. While she embraced her newfound independence and began dating, Andrew focused on academics. Their mother, meanwhile, opened a dry cleaning business in Evanston, Illinois.
But in October 1987, Elizabeth Suh was found savagely murdered in what looked like a botched robbery at her business. She had been stabbed over 30 times in the upper body and her throat had been slit. An investigation into her murder quickly went cold.
Andrew, now 13, was placed under the guardianship of his 18-year-old sister; he was also the sole recipient of his mother’s $800,000 life insurance policy.
Soon, O’Dubaine, who had been dating Catherine for some time, moved in with them, and over time, Andrew grew close with O’Dubaine, the new father-figure in his life. Catherine and O’Dubaine eventually used the insurance payout to open a successful bar called Club Metropolis, while Andrew attended a prep school. Studious throughout high school, he eventually landed a full scholarship to Providence College where he studied Economics and Japanese.
But while at college, Andrew remained under his older sister’s influence — which eventually turned deadly.
Chicago investigators discovered that while Andrew was studying in Providence in the weeks before O’Dubaine’s murder, his sister began to call him regularly. As they investigated, police learned that Andrew had signed out of campus the day of the murder. His roommate told them Andrew went home that weekend to take care of “family business.” He did not return.
Catherine and Andrew quickly became prime suspects when Chicago Detective Bill Johnson contacted American Airlines and learned that on September 20, 1993, she had purchased a one-way ticket from Providence to Chicago for travel on the afternoon O’Dubaine was killed. The ticket, for her brother, was paid for in cash and in person.
While Catherine was speaking with police in the days after the murder, telling them of O’Dubaine’s supposed gambling debts, Andrew was on the run. But her story quickly began to unravel, and she was arrested and charged with murder. It wasn’t until weeks later that Andrew was apprehended at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, where $65,000 and a wallet with O’Dubaine’s IDs were found in his bag.
Andrew quickly gave a full confession — his sister had been calling him and saying that O’Dubaine was beating her and stealing money, and that Andrew needed to step up and be the man of the family. He said it was done out of a sense of family duty — and not to get a cut of O’Dubaine’s $250,000 insurance policy.
“Family honor and obedience was drilled into Andrew at a very young age, and his sister was all that he had left,” Gutkowski said.
According to Andrew, on the night of the murder, both O’Dubaine and Catherine were spending time with their separate lovers — Catherine in a bar in Glenview, Illinois, him on the phone with his new girlfriend. The two had an open relationship where they were allowed to date others. While on the call, O’Dubaine received a call from Catherine saying that her car had broken down and she needed him. He headed to the garage, where he was shot dead.
Andrew explained Catherine instructed him to wear all black clothing and bring a change of clothes after he flew to the home. He was told where he would find a gun in the attic of the garage, where he waited for hours until Robert was lured to the garage by the call from Catherine. After he fired one shot into Robert’s neck and a second shot to ensure he was killed, he jumped into the Jeep, ditched it, hailed a cab, and went on the run. When he was apprehended, he was headed back to Chicago to bail out Catherine from jail.
“She turned and made a valedictorian a killer — how crazy is that when you think about it?” former Chicago police detective Pat McCarthy told producers.
Catherine did still manage to make bail, and cooperated with her lawyers, speaking with them regularly — until the day her trial was set to begin, when she didn’t show up. The judge issued a warrant for her arrest and proceeded with a trial in absentia. After two hours of jury deliberations, Catherine was found guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery. She was sentenced to life in prison — if she was ever found.
It wasn’t until months later, on the run in Hawaii, that Catherine saw herself on “America’s Most Wanted” and decided it was time to turn herself in. Life on the run was just too difficult. As she was arrested, she told reporters that Chicago politics are corrupt, and that she is innocent.
Speaking to the Chicago Tribune in 2017 as he sought clemency for his 100-year sentence, Andrew said he now believes it was his 18-year-old sister who murdered their mother. He also said that Catherine told him it was her boyfriend who was responsible for that 1987 murder — which he claimed he know realizes was a lie.
While Catherine was at one point a suspect in the investigation, she was never charged in her mother’s murder. In fact, O’Dubaine and Catherine were each other’s alibis the night her mother was brutally killed.
“I’m the person responsible for this crime,” Andew told the Tribune of O’Dubaine’s murder. “But what I want to explain to people is that my sister was everything to me and all I had. She was my surrogate mother. She was my lifeline, and I believed in her.”
Andrew Suh is currently serving his sentence at Dixon Correctional Center in Illinois. He’s eligible for parole in 2034. Catherine Suh is serving life without parole. The murder of Elizabeth Suh remains unsolved.