Friends, family mourn Richmond woman killed in Oakland
on December 11, 2014
Things were looking up for Rusamie Ashly Phongphoumy, who had long dreamed of a better life. On the night of Nov. 29, her boyfriend proposed to her. She accepted. The couple made plans for the future.
But all that ended the next day, when she was killed in a West Oakland market, allegedly by a jealous ex-boyfriend.
The 19-year-old Kennedy High graduate, who answered to her middle name, had been trying for the past few months to end the relationship with her alleged killer, Abdol Ali Omar, 35, according to her brother Alan Phat.
She tried to break it off again at 11:30 a.m. that fateful Sunday morning but Omar attacked Phongphoumy with a knife, stabbing her multiple times, according to her mother Joann, who witnessed the attack. A struggle with a store employee ensued. Phongphoumy staggered outside and collapsed. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“What did my daughter do to him?” Ashly’s mother said. “I was so angry, I was crying.”
Phongphoumy has one final journey to make.
Her family started a new online fundraising campaign to pay for the costs of the funeral and to bring Phongphoumy’s ashes back to the family’s native Laos.
Dozens of people donated money last week to the online charity set up on the www.youcaring.com to help the family pay for the funeral. The fundraiser that ended on Saturday fell short of its goal.
“She was really focused on how to make her life better,” Phat said.
Family members remembered Ashly as tough but shy around those she just met. She was overprotective of her younger brothers and sister, but quick to share laughs with friends. She didn’t like telling her problems to other people, her brother said.
“She was like a second mother to me,” Phat said. “She would bring me everywhere to go eat, she would buy me things, make food if my Mom’s not home.”
Ashly dreamed of finding a nice place to live, a good job, a fancy car and traveling around the world to Paris, Italy and Dubai.
“She has lots of friends, she was very sweet, very honest, very sensitive,” her mother said.
Her favorite activities were shopping and eating out, her family said. Her favorite restaurant was the Texas Roadhouse.
“She loved that place, she loved steak,” her mother said.
Opportunities seemed within Ashly’s grasp. She thought of going back to school and getting a business degree, according to her brother. A filmmaker contacted her and she sensed an opening to become a model or an actress.
“She was very excited about that,” her mother said.
But the family struggled and the obstacles were steep. A burglar broke into the family’s home in the Pullman Point housing project a week before Ashly was killed. Thieves left with her 50-inch television, a PlayStation 3 and money from her brother’s piggy bank.
“This is the fourth time they broke into my house,” her mother said.
But far more dangerous was Ashly’s ex boyfriend.
After graduating from high school Ashley planned to go to beauty school but Omar wouldn’t allow it.
“He didn’t want her meeting anyone new,” Phat said.
He was “possessive and controlling” according to Phat. He would call her and text her from different numbers and threaten her by email.
The night before Ashly was killed Omar came to the family’s home. He went in her room. He waited outside for her to come home, according to family members.
“That’s when he started getting crazy,” Phat said.
Omar, a widower who had been dating Phongphoumy since she was 18, was charged with murder last week and is being held without bail. Police say he confessed to the crime.
Residents in the area prevented Omar from leaving the scene until police arrived. The attack was captured on video surveillance cameras, authorities said.
Phongphoumy was posthumously ordained as a novice nun during an early morning ceremony at the Wat Lao Rattanaram, Richmond’s Laotian temple, on Saturday. About 150 people gathered to mourn.
Following a lunch offering to the monks, family and friends gathered for a traditional Buddhist service that included offerings and prayers.
Ashly’s fiancé and family met on the day of the funeral. He told them he proposed to Ashly the day before she died. The couple planned to announce the engagement the following day.
“She was so excited to marry him and be his wife,” Ashly’s fiancé told her mother.
The fiancé cried and said he loved Ashly very much. They all read the text messages the couple wrote to each other.
“She was the happiest she’s ever been and she was so in love with him,” Phat said describing what he saw.
On the morning of her death Ashley text messaged her fiancé.
“Her last text message to him was I love you,” Phat said.
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