“Perfect” Chinese Student On the Run, Caught Three Years After Killing His Mother

  • Wu Xieyu arrested 3 years after accused of killing his own mother.
  • Wu Xieyu worked as a male escort in Chongqing before getting caught.
  • The surveillance system in the airport helped to recognize him.

“This doesn’t look like you. Please show me your real identity document.”

“There’s nothing more to say. I’ll go with you.”

This was the conversation that happened last Sunday (April 21) at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, before the police arrested Wu Xieyu, accused of murdering his own mother three years ago and on the run ever since. According to the police, at the time of being caught, Xieyu carried with him more than 30 fake ID cards that he bought online. He was allegedly at the airport sending off the manager at the night club where he worked. It remains unclear if he wanted to be arrested when he decided to enter a high-security airport.

Around April of 2015, as a junior student at Peking University, one of the best universities in the world, Xieyu applied to cancel all his classes due to family issues. He moved out of the university dormitory and stopped going to classes in May. Also, he managed to gain an advance on a scholarship for about $1,000 that he was offered by a language school in Beijing. By the end of June, before going back to Fuzhou, where his mother resided, Xieyu bought some tools: knives, waterproof cloths, oil resistant tablecloth, humidity absorbers, surgical gown, and more.

On July 5, Xieyu’s mother called a relative in Putian, their hometown, saying that Xieyu finished school early that year and they would go visit his grandma in a few days, which indicated that Xieyu was already in Fuzhou by early July.

On the night of July 10, Xieyu reserved a hotel room near his mother’s apartment in Fuzhou. The next day, authorities say, he admitted that he killed his mother.

During the next few days, Xieyu used his Alipay account (similar to Paypal) to repeatedly buy activated carbon 34 times, and 19 times he bought more waterproof cloths, wallpapers, and vacuum bags. Meanwhile, he started to use his mother’s phone to borrow money, saying that he was going to study in the United States in a few days and his mother would go with him. He gathered up more than $213,000 in a single week.

In early August 2015, by cutting and copying words from his mother’s dairy, Xieyu forged a resignation letter and handed it in to the high school where his mother worked as a teacher. For the rest of the year, Xieyu lived with a female sex worker in Shanghai, who claimed they were in a relationship. During this time, Xieyu still occasionally replied to his classmates on social media. One classmate at Peking University allegedly saw him once back on the campus, asking for information on retakes since he did not attend the final exams.

On February 4, 2016, while he was withdrawing money in Henan province, an ATM camera took the infamous picture that probably most Chinese have seen. The next day, he texted his uncle saying that he and his mother were coming back from Boston and would arrive in Putian on February 6, hoping that his uncle could go pick them up. On February 6, his uncle showed up on time but he and his mother did not. His uncle called the police.

On February 14, the police forced their way into the family apartment in Fuzhou. There lying on the bed, the body of Xieyu’s mother was wrapped over and over with waterproof cloths, stuffed with activated carbon. At one corner, a camera that could be controlled by phones was installed to monitor the room.

From the moment the police found the body until last Sunday when he was arrested, apart from this picture shot by an ATM, no one knew where Xieyu was for three years. He was wanted nationally with a reward offered of over $7,000.

The news that Xieyu was finally caught after three years evoked a huge amount of discussion online in China, showing people’s continuing interests in this case. Everyone that knows him considered him “perfect”: a top student, excellent basketball player, modest, learned, with high self-discipline. People are wondering what could make a straight A student in Peking University kill his own mother.

As more details come out, the case just becomes more intriguing. Apparently, his original idea was to kill his mother, cut the body in pieces and get rid of them, and finally run away to the United States with the money that he borrowed using his mother’s name. According to the police, the cuts on the body suggest that after he killed his mother, Xieyu tried to cut off the head. However, he underestimated the difficulty that this involved and the sound that it could make. He finally chose to just wrap the body up in activated carbon to absorb the smell. The whole process lasted more than ten days.

According to the sex worker he lived with for several months, they were deeply in love and Xieyu even considered marrying her. Moreover, Xieyu seems to have fetishes like recording them having sex. He also bought quite a few dildos, which leads to the suspicion that Xieyu might be homosexual. After breaking up with the sex worker, Xieyu went to Chongqing, where he started to work as a teacher during daytime and as a male escort (for women) at night. Some colleagues from the club say that since Xieyu was not the best looking worker there, when business was not good, he would just sit in a corner quietly. During this whole time, Xieyu kept up several habits: studying English, working out in the gym, reading political news, and surprisingly, spending tens of thousands of dollars on the lottery.

Interestingly, the police arrived just ten minutes after Xieyu stepped into the airport. A new surveillance system that was deployed six months ago recognized him right away. This system has helped to catch many wanted criminals nationwide.

The real motive for why Xieyu killed his mother remains unknown along with many other questions. How did he get away from all the cameras that are everywhere in China? Why did he choose to stay in China after killing his mother? Why did he send that message to his uncle? And knowing that he was a wanted man, why did he enter the airport? Hopefully as the investigation moves forward, all these questions will be answered.

Xieyu faces the death penalty in China, even if his relatives forgive him.

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