Hue and Cry

The Murder of Quin-Rong Wu

The Murder of Quin-Rong Wu

Location: New York, New York  |  Year: 1997

In 1995, Quin-Rong Wu immigrated to the United States from the Guangdong Province in southern China with her parents, 17-year-old sister, and 7-year-old brother. The family settled in the Lower East Side in a second-floor apartment at 199 Henry Street. Quin’s father, Qun Shen Wu, found work at a noodle factory, and her mother, Wu Yu Qin, worked as a seamstress on Canal street. The family of five lived in an old tenement building in a small one-bedroom, two-room apartment. The five of them shared two beds, Quin-Rong and her sister in one bed, and her brother and parents in the other. Quin-Rong’s school, Public School 2, was located just down the block from their apartment.

Quin-Rong’s childhood in China was difficult because she did not actually live with her parents. In order to circumvent China’s one-child policy at the time, she lived an hour away with relatives. The move to America would be the first time she was able to live with her entire family. Although she struggled to learn English and acclimate to life in an America, Quin-Rong was known to enjoy school and eagerly went an hour early each morning where she was served a breakfast of muffins and cereal. She enjoyed hide-and-seek, playing with her family’s Game Boy, and visiting the nearby park. She loved all things American and was known to prefer pancakes and cereal over traditional Chinese food.

She liked school. She liked New York City. She was very happy.

Hua-Rong Wu, sister of Quin-Rong Wu

On the morning of Tuesday, May 13, Quin-Rong put on her jeans, a sweatshirt, and her red sneakers, and left her apartment with her mother. The two of them walked halfway to school together before Quin-Rong walked the last hundred yards to her school alone. She never made it to school that day. After the school notified her family that she wasn’t at school, they frantically searched the Lower East Side streets to no avail. When Quin-Rong could still not be found, they alerted the Seventh Precinct police.

An extensive search was soon underway with help from the police, Chinese community, and family, but nothing was ever discovered in that initial period. Two weeks after Quin-Rong went missing, the body of a young girl was found Wednesday evening just north of the Manhattan Bridge in the East River. Police also found a single red sneaker. The body and face of the girl were badly decomposed and bloated from being in the water for so long. It was not until dental records were used to identify the body that police knew the body belonged to Quin-Rong.

The cause of death was determined to be manual strangulation, police did not make any other signs of trauma known to the public. The police investigation has uncovered varying witness accounts leading to a number of different narratives of what could have happened that day. One witness reported seeing a caucasian, bearded, man with a crying Asian girl boarding a northbound subway in the Lower East Side one hour after Quin-Rong would have left her mother. The same witness saw the pair again later that day boarding a different train going from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Other witnesses claimed to have seen a caucasian man staring at young girls near Quin-Rong’s school.

Her family has also come under suspicion as well, when it was later discovered that the family had another daughter who had died in China. Police became suspicious of this because both parents gave different stories as to the cause of her death. Police were also surprised that the family never inquired about case updates. When asked about it, Quin-Rong’s father stated that he did not even know that was a possibility. Around the time of her disappearance, police were also actively searching for a serial rapist in Chinatown who was known to have raped multiple young girls around the same age as Quin-Rong, although no formal connection was ever made by police.

To date, this case is still unsolved, and Quin-Rong’s family eventually moved out of the Lower East side – their whereabouts are currently unknown.

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