Fugitive arrested over threatening, worm-filled letters

ON THE RUN::Lai Chin-hsien was placed on the wanted list after he was handed a nine-year jail sentence in 2003 for a series of sexual assaults

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Mar 13, 2014 - Page 1

A man has been arrested on suspicion of mailing threatening letters containing live mealworms and joss paper to restaurants, public officials and celebrities.

Criminal Investigation Bureau Commissioner Lin Teh-hua (林德華) told a press conference yesterday afternoon that the suspect, Lai Chin-hsien (賴錦賢), 32, was arrested in Greater Kaohsiung on Tuesday evening.

Lai, who is suspected of sending 14 threatening letters to recipients in Taipei and 13 in Changhua County, had confessed, Lin said.

Lin said that threatening letters had been sent to pop singer Jam Hsiao (蕭敬騰), renowned restaurant Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) and Democratic Progressive Party Taipei mayoral hopeful Wellington Koo (顧立雄), among others.

Forensic evidence showed that the letters delivered to Hsiao and the restaurant were related to those sent to Changhua County supermarkets and the politician, the commissioner added.

He said police identified Lai on Wednesday last week by traces of DNA left on some of the envelopes and stamps.

Lin said police also checked Greater Kaohsiung pet shops and aquariums which sell mealworms, as well as rented studios where Lai might have been hiding.

He said Lai is a fugitive on the wanted list who was convicted of sexually attacking several young women in then-Taichung City more than a decade ago and had been handed a nine-year prison sentence in 2003.

Police discovered that Lai was staying in a rented studio in Greater Kaohsiung’s Sanmin District (三民) and officers had been watching the studio day and night. When Lai returned to the studio at 8pm on Tuesday, the officers arrested him and seized computers, mobile phones, notebooks and other material from the studio, Lin said.

Lai said he sent the threatening letters to celebrities because he was upset over his girlfriend’s indictment on charges of violating the Trademark Act (商標法), according to police.

“I chose celebrities as targets to gain the most publicity,” police cited Lai as saying.

Police said Lai would be charged with making threats and forgery. He was sent to Taichung Prison yesterday to serve his nine-year sexual assault sentence.

Police said Lai’s girlfriend, surnamed Lin, 25, was also arrested at the studio.

Police said Lai’s girlfriend has been accused of selling fake brand-name products online and had previously been arrested by Taoyuan County police.

She is suspected of having known about the threats and of harboring a wanted person, police added.

The first of the letters were delivered to Hsiao, Din Tai Fung and Koo on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22.

Hsiao’s management company also received a threatening letter, as did his manager, Summer Lin (林有慧).

Beidou Township (北斗) Mayor Yang Lee-hsiang (楊麗香), several supermarkets and various food stall vendors in Changhua County also received similar letters.