A couple slashed to death by a man living one floor below them in southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung city were found on Monday to have suffered a combined total of 13 stab and laceration wounds to their bodies. The killings allegedly unfolded in front of the pair’s young sons last week.
The incident occurred at around 7.50am on the 14th floor of a residential building in the city’s Wumiao Road last Friday, the local police said.
The suspect, surnamed Wu, had a knife when he entered the flat where the couple lived. He attacked them before fleeing the scene.
The victims’ two sons, aged six and seven, witnessed the attack but were unharmed. They reportedly went downstairs to the apartment building’s management office, crying that their “father and mother (had) been killed”, and that “the uncle from the 13th floor” had committed the killings. A security officer then called the police.
After forensic analysis, which lasted nearly eight hours, pathologists said on Monday that the dead man, surnamed Luo, 35, had eight wounds on his right arm and abdomen, as well as a suspected fatal injury dealt to his chest while he was in bed. His wife, surnamed Cai, 36, had five wounds, including major punctures to her abdomen, and was discovered in the flat’s living room. Both were found to have died after excessive blood loss.
Wu, a retired employee of a car repair shop, had fled the city on his motorcycle but was apprehended less than three hours later. The police said they studied the direction of his escape on surveillance cameras and arrested him in Pingtung County, south of Kaohsiung.
While he admitted to the killings at once, prosecutors said Wu, 63, was uncooperative and exercised his right to silence for long periods. He had discarded the weapon and his bloodstained clothes when attempting to leave the crime scene.
He also challenged investigators to “show him the evidence”, Taiwanese online news site The Storm Media reported, indicating that Wu showed little intention of revealing his motive for the killings or the weapon used.
Suspected dispute over a din
Investigators suspect the killings may have been committed over a noise dispute, with the local police adding that Wu’s son had told them about sounds akin to objects hitting the floor over the course of each day.
Wu had made multiple complaints about noise from upstairs, even when the Luo family was not at home, an employee from the apartment building’s management told Taiwan’s China Times, adding that the neighbours quarrelled over the matter frequently.
The management committee also confirmed that it had mediated between the neighbours more than once, without the disagreements ever escalating into physical altercations.
Last Friday, the police retrieved an outer shirt Wu was suspected to have been wearing during the attack on the couple, and a fruit knife suspected to be the weapon used, under the Wanda Bridge near the Gaoping river.
Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chi-mai said last Saturday that Wu had no history of mental illness. He has been detained while investigations are ongoing.
Wu was reportedly the caretaker of his wife, a stroke survivor with mobility issues, who said she did not understand why he committed the killings.
Victims’ sons in shock
Mr Luo’s father penned a note last Sunday titled “A tearful note from a victim’s father”. In the note, he said he would treat his grandsons like his own children, and that he wanted to protect them from further harm after the tragic incident.
The elder boy, a first-year student in elementary school, was in tears after the incident, Taiwanese media reported family members as saying. He had reportedly let Wu into the flat, the police said.
His younger brother, who is in kindergarten, was in an apparent state of shock in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and was said to be rejecting physical contact from his family. He was heard remarking that the ketchup which accompanied chicken nuggets he was served “looks like blood”, local media reported his grandfather saying.
The Kaohsiung City Social Affairs Bureau made arrangements for psychologists to assess the boys and help them deal with the trauma of witnessing the incident, and also deployed a court-trained clinician to help take their statements.