updated 4/4/2006 1:14:47 AM ET 2006-04-04T05:14:47

The father of two young children found burned beyond recognition in a sport utility vehicle will be booked on suspicion of murder, police said Monday.

Dae Kwon Yun, 54, was found near the SUV with severe burns on his face, hands and legs, authorities said. He was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Monday.

Yun and his wife had been separated for about two weeks, and he was living out of his vehicle, authorities said.

"Detectives believe the killings were related to the estrangement of Yun and his wife," a police statement released Monday said.

Police believed the victims were 11-year-old Ashley and 10-year-old Alexander, but positive identification was difficult because the bodies were so severely burned.

The children had planned to go to the movies with their father on Sunday, and their mother expected them back that evening, the police statement said. Witnesses told police they saw Yun arguing in Korean with his daughter outside the family's vehicle in a downtown alley.

The SUV erupted into flames just moments after Yun forced the girl into the vehicle then sat in the front passenger seat himself, police said. As the car burned from the inside, Yun opened the door and rolled out, the statement said.

It wasn't clear whether Yun had intended to kill himself along with his children and then changed his mind, said police Detective Vic Pietrantoni.

"We need to talk to the father to find out what he was thinking," he said.

Firefighters reached the SUV about 4:45 p.m. and discovered the bodies after extinguishing the fire, said Brian Humphrey, a fire department spokesman.

Yun's wife, Ok Ma Sun, owns a small business near the scene of the blaze, authorities said. She told police that her husband may also have been distraught over a gambling debt.

Eunice Kwak, 41, who works at a shop across the street, recalled that Yun's wife had said Yun had beaten her in the past. But Kwak said she never witnessed any physical violence herself.

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