Tony Tung faced a second conviction for the murder of Robert Cantor after appealing his initial conviction. His defense argued that there was no physical evidence connecting him to Cantor’s murder and no apparent motive for the crime. Due to these reasons and other legal technicalities, his original sentence was overturned. In the documentary ‘Dateline: The Room Downstairs,’ viewers explore whether Tony Tung was indeed the killer and the possible reasons behind Robert Cantor’s murder.
Who is Tony Tung?
Sui Kam “Tony” Tung was married to Sophie Menuet, and together they created a lovely home for their three daughters in New York City. Tung, deeply involved in his role as a father, participated in the PTA, cooked for the family, and took his daughters to school. However, the dynamic in their marriage shifted as Sophie became the sole breadwinner, placing a strain on their relationship. Despite Sophie’s unhappiness, Tung was determined to salvage their marriage, leading to an increasing obsession with the idea of preserving their union.
Sophie and Robert Cantor first met at a lecture on the aging brain in September 2009, and their connection deepened during a subsequent wine and cheese event. Despite Sophie’s initial disclosure of being married with three children and not seeking a relationship, she and Robert continued to communicate through email. Over time, Sophie opened up to Robert about the challenges in her marriage, finding in him a supportive confidant that was missing in her marital life. Robert, in turn, encouraged her to find the courage to break free from her unhappy situation.
On Valentine’s Day in 2010, Robert Cantor began receiving threatening, anonymous emails related to his relationship with Sophie. Simultaneously, Sophie noticed that some of her emails sent to Robert were being forwarded to Tung. The discovery of spyware on her computer led Sophie to the realization that Tung was invading her private communications. In March 2010, Sophie decided to move out of Tung’s Manhattan apartment. She then initiated a relationship with Robert, who lived in New Jersey. In March 2011, Sophie served Tung with divorce papers and on March 5, she introduced her children to Robert. This was one thing that angered Tung.
Between 10:30 p.m. on the night of March 5 and 1 a.m. on March 6, Tung drove from Manhattan to New Jersey and entered Robert’s home on Elm Avenue. Once inside, he took 59-year-old Robert to the basement, where Tung fatally shot him in the back of the head using a .380-caliber revolver. Robert died instantly, and Tung placed his body on the basement bed, which he believed to be the place where Robert and Sophie had consummated their relationship. Tung then poured grain alcohol on Robert’s body and set it on fire. The police were alerted when neighbors observed smoke and flames emanating from Robert’s Teaneck home.
The police had long suspected Tung’s involvement in Robert’s murder, but they only gathered sufficient evidence a year later, leading to his arrest. Tung’s trial began in 2016, resulting in his conviction for the murder of Robert Cantor. However, he appealed the conviction, and a state appeals court overturned it, sending the case back to Bergen County for a retrial. Tung’s defense centered on the absence of physical evidence linking him to the murder and alleged inappropriate testimony from detectives brought in by the prosecution. They emphasized Tung’s assertion of his right to have a lawyer and his refusal for a search of his car and computer without a warrant. The defense argued that portraying these actions as signs of culpability was a misrepresentation of Tung’s constitutional rights.
Tony Tung is Now Serving His Sentence
In 2023, Sui Kam “Tony” Tung faced his second trial and was once again found guilty of the murder of Robert Cantor. He was also convicted on charges of arson, weapons offenses, stalking, and desecration of a human body. The judge expressed that Tung’s actions reflected pure evil and urged him to contemplate not only the impact on Robert but also his three daughters, questioning whether he would have the opportunity to see them again. Tung received a life sentence with a mandatory minimum of 63 years and 9 months for the murder charge, along with additional sentences for the other charges. Currently incarcerated at the New Jersey State Prison, the 60-year-old Tung is eligible for parole on February 18, 2076.