Wed, Jan 19, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Taiwanese student commits suicide on eve of US trial

FOUR DEAD The college student, who was accused of committing a triple murder at the University of Wisconsin, hanged himself in his prison cell

AP , MADISON, WISCONSIN

A college student from Taiwan charged with killing three men in their sleep hanged himself from a sprinkler head in his Wisconsin jail cell on Monday, one day before his trial was to begin, authorities said.

Officials were still investigating how Wu Meng-ju (吳孟儒) was able to use a bedsheet or pillowcase to hang himself at the county jail.

Wu, 20, came from Taiwan to study Chinese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was charged in July 2003 with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the shootings of Jason McGuigan, 28, Dustin Wilson, 17, and Daniel Swanson, 25.

Investigators said gambling played a role in the slayings of the three roommates.

Wu allegedly told authorities he befriended McGuigan because he wanted to gamble and had McGuigan set up an offshore betting account for him. McGuigan also advised Wu which teams to bet on, and Wu used one tip to win US$17,000.

McGuigan allegedly threatened Wu at gunpoint to "keep his mouth shut" about the US$17,000 after Wu began celebrating the win in front of others, according to a criminal complaint. One witness told police McGuigan later said Wu was going to get what was coming to him.

The men were found dead of gunshot wounds after a woman looked into a window of a duplex and saw someone lying in a pool of blood.

Police said Wu's car was found in the driveway the day of the shootings. Authorities also found a plastic bag in a trash bin near Wu's apartment that contained a pair of sandals with traces of Wilson's blood and a letter with a return address from Wu.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin yesterday in Wu's trial.

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