Prime suspect in double murder denied bail

By Jason Pan  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 - Page 3

A woman who has been charged as the prime suspect in a double homicide was denied bail by the Taiwan High Court yesterday and remanded in police custody.

Hsieh Yi-han (謝依涵), along with three other suspects, was charged with the murders, which took place in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Bali District (八里).

She was detained on the orders of the Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office on March 7, but filed an appeal seeking release on bail.

The bodies of Shih Chien University assistant professor Chang Tsui-ping (張翠萍), 58, and her husband, Chen Chin-fu (陳進福), 79, were discovered separately in mangrove trees and sand bars on the banks of the Tamsui River (淡水河) in Bali late last month.

Hsieh became the prime suspect in the case, as she was said to have had “unusual dealings” with the couple, who frequented the Mama Mouth Cafe (媽媽嘴), where Hsieh was manager, and which is close to where the bodies were found.

Investigators said the couple was last seen in the cafe on Feb. 16.

In the ruling yesterday, the court statement indicated that Hsieh had confessed to the murder when questioned by police and when under examination by investigators.

The court said she admitted to taking part in the murder of the couple and the admission of her involvement matched in parts with witness statements.

However, after her initial detention, Hsieh retracted her admission of guilt and denied any involvement in the crime.

The court ruled there was corroborating evidence captured by surveillance cameras in the area, and said her confessed involvement matched the determined cause of death following autopsies.

The court said Hsieh had tried to alter her appearance in order to impersonate Chang Tsui-ping in an attempt to withdraw money from Chang’s bank account, and that the police had found items belonging to the victim at Hsieh’s home.

Hsieh was therefore identified as a major suspect in the case and if found guilty, could face a jail term of at least five years.

The ruling said that after examination of the evidence, Hsieh remained the major suspect and must remain in custody.

Lu Ping-hung (呂炳宏), the owner of the coffee shop, along with suspects Ou Shih-chen (歐石城) and Chung Tien-feng (鍾典峰), were detained on March 6.

The court on Monday ruled that they should be released on bail.

After prosecutors filed an objection, the court on Wednesday upheld its previous decision to have Lu, Ou and Chung released on bail, but barred from leaving the country.