MOUNT DORA, Fla.—Three years ago, Mount Dora was rocked by the double murders of two beloved store owners who were staples in the community and the identity of the person or people responsible for their murders remains a mystery.
Minh “Tina” Nguyen, 47, and Khiem “Ken” Ba Trinh, 56, were shot around 9 p.m. Nov. 30, 2020, at their popular store, T & N Market, 1345 North Grandview Street, just a few blocks from Mount Dora Police Department. The couple was found behind the counter suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and Nguyen was pronounced dead on the scene. Trinh was airlifted to a Sanford hospital where he succumbed to his injuries just a few days later on Dec. 3, 2020.
Mount Dora Police Department released two surveillance videos showing the gunman’s movements; one was from an outside camera that showed a single gunman running across the parking lot and accosting Trinh at his gray Honda minivan and forcing him back into the store at gunpoint and later shows the gunman fleeing the building and parking lot. A second video from inside the store shows the suspect—dressed in all black—arguing with the couple and fleeing the store. The suspect’s voice can be heard in the second video and when it was released, then-Interim Chief Brett Meade asked the public to watch and listen carefully to help identify the killer. Video of the actual shooting was not released to the public.
Dozens of people attended a candlelight vigil and balloon release held at the store the day after the shooting and a block party was held in their honor several days after the murders. The store, a staple in the northeast community of Mount Dora, had been in business for more than 30 years and many of its patrons frequented the store since they were children. Today, the storefront is empty.
The couple was well-liked in the community they served; numerous people expressed their sorrow on social media in the days following the tragedy. They left behind two sons, Ryan and Vincent.
A reward of $10,000 was offered for information leading to an arrest quickly after the murders occurred, and is still available, three years later, but MDPD has never received the information it needs to make an arrest. MDPD Det. Gary Hutcheson said the key to solving the case is someone coming forward with what they know.
Inside Lake recently sat down with Hutcheson in a face-to-face interview to get an update on the case.
Rumors have swirled for years, and several sources have told Inside Lake—as far back as just a few weeks after the murders—that a man well-known to Lake County law enforcement was responsible for the heinous crime. That man is currently serving a lengthy federal prison term for a gun charge, stemming from a case in another Lake County city. Inside Lake directly asked Hutcheson if he was the culprit.
“He was interviewed as part of this case, but I’ve never had enough probable cause to say he did it,” Hutcheson said. Inside Lake is not naming the man because he has not been charged in this case.
Based on the investigation, police believe the motive was robbery and a lack of physical evidence has been a major barrier in solving the case. It is unknown why the perpetrator murdered the couple in addition to the robbery, especially when he had completely disguised his appearance.
“He (the suspect) was covered head-to-toe, gloves, face mask, full head covering, all black. We don’t have any DNA nor touch DNA,” Hutcheson explained. Police did recover shell casings and projectiles but will not release the caliber of the gun. Tests have been performed on the evidence they do have, and surprisingly, does not match any other crimes MDPD is aware of.
There was no indication something like this might occur in the months leading up to the murders. There was a “neighborhood youth” the couple was apparently having some problems with, Hutcheson said, but there is not enough evidence to charge or clear the youth.
MDPD has received information that a getaway vehicle was waiting on Gorham Street, just one block from the store but police have never been able to verify it, Hutcheson said. There were no cameras on Gorham Street, but the exterior camera at T&N Market does show the suspect running through and out of the parking lot at an angle toward the area of Gorham Street following the crime.
Hutcheson said police have released all the information and evidence they can at this point. They do have persons of interest and have investigative leads they just cannot release because it is information only the police and the perpetrator or perpetrators would know. Releasing information too early could damage their case.
Hutcheson said cases like this are a joint effort and he appreciates the support he gets from other agencies. “I have to give a lot of kudos to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Every time we get a homicide, we give them a call and they show up in force,” Hutcheson said. “We couldn’t work these cases without their help.”
In the months following the murders, the was a lot of community chatter about who may be responsible, but no one has ever given MDPD the information they need to close the case. Hutcheson said he has chased down leads when he hears someone may know something, but some people have just refused to speak with him. “We’re going to need somebody to come forward.”
“There are people in this community and the surrounding communities that I know, know something about this case and they’re just not coming forward,” Hutcheson said. “I know the persons of interest in this case have spoken to people and made admissions. We just have to get those people to come forward and tell us. If somebody directly tells somebody that they did something, we can use that.”
If you have information on the murders of “Ken and Tina,” call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS. Callers may be eligible for the $10,000 reward and can remain anonymous.