Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Officer suspected of killing girlfriend commits suicide

By Rich Chang and Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A Kaohsiung police officer suspected of murdering a woman reportedly jumped to his death last night after being released on bail earlier yesterday afternoon.

Lee Hsing-ho (李心和), 48, was questioned by colleagues yesterday until 2:30pm, after which he was released on NT$300,000 (US$9,100) bail, Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office spokesman Chung Chung-hsiao (鍾忠孝) told a press conference yesterday.

"Prosecutors did not apply to detain him because there is insufficient evidence indicating he murdered the woman," Chung said, adding that Lee had been suspended from his post.

A hooded Lee was shown in local TV reports fleeing the station upon his release to avoid the media.

The body of Wang Tsai-pao (王采寶) was found on a roadside in Cishan (旗山), Kaohsiung County, on Jan. 8, reportedly strangled to death. Chung said Wang had run an illegal gambling operation based on Mark Six in Hong Kong. A suspected gambler, Lee was reported to have owed Wang money from betting.

Kaohsiung City Government Police Bureau Inspector Lee Fu-shun (李福順) confirmed reports that Lee was also romantically involved with Wang, saying in an interview with local media that Wang was Lee's girlfriend.

Lee denied involvement in the murder.

Police yesterday said that Wang's body had been run over by a vehicle to make it look like she died in a car accident.

Kaohsiung police identified Wang after finding her abandoned car on a roadside in Pingtung County. Recent footage from a roadside surveillance camera near the road where Wang's body was found showed Wang driving in her car with a man seated beside her, police said.

They added that they had discovered several phone calls between Lee and Wang a few days before the murder.

A taxi driver told police she had driven Lee from a road in Pingtung County near the site of Wang's abandoned car on Jan. 8.

The Kaohsiung Police Department yesterday said that Lee came to work as usual after the Jan. 8 incident.

After being released on bail yesterday afternoon, Lee reportedly returned to the station where he had been questioned earlier, but it was unclear why he had returned.

He was with colleagues on a lower-level floor of the station in the early evening, excusing himself at around 7:30pm to use the bathroom, according to a news broadcast by CTI-TV last night.

Lee then reportedly made his way up to the eighth floor and jumped from the building, landing in a central court below the station.

Lee died on impact, with his body discovered at 7:36pm, according to reports. Witnesses reportedly saw Lee jump.

By 9pm, police officers had cordoned off the scene, photographing the area and collecting evidence after an ambulance had rushed Lee's body to a local hospital.

Lee's colleagues expressed surprise yesterday at his suspected involvement in the case, the bureau said.

Lee's father was a former police officer. His brother also works as a police offer in Kaohsiung.

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