The tragic death of a promiscuous woman

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Shanghai, known for its bustling streets and vibrant culture, was shaken by a gruesome murder mystery that took authorities 98 days to unravel, revealing a complex web of social relationships and the promiscuous lifestyle of the victim.

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It was the morning of April 29, 1993, when Shanghai police received a report of a floating bag near the banks of the Du Jing River. Upon inspection, sanitation workers discovered the naked body of a woman inside.

The autopsy revealed that the victim, approximately 40 years old, had suffered 15 stab wounds from a sharp object, leading to fatal injuries to the heart and arteries, resulting in severe blood loss and lung hemorrhage.

Further examination indicated that the victim had undergone cosmetic surgery to alter her appearance, including double eyelid surgery, eyebrow tattooing, manicured nails, and styled French hair.

Authorities speculated that the victim placed great emphasis on her appearance, likely frequenting entertainment venues such as nightclubs and spending lavishly. However, evidence suggested that her financial situation was not affluent, as indicated by the use of a hair tie made from an elastic band.

Through an investigation of the crime scene and analysis of the river’s hydrological characteristics, police concluded that the bag containing the body had been thrown from a location approximately 500 meters upstream. The disposal was estimated to have occurred between midnight and 3 am on April 29. Aside from the bag containing the body, a hair tie, and a pair of white female stockings used to bind the bag’s opening, no other valuable evidence was found at the scene.

Despite interrogating over 7,000 individuals and conducting extensive river dredging operations, authorities initially struggled to find significant leads.

On May 12, a 30-second video describing the victim’s physical characteristics was broadcasted on television, prompting a breakthrough.

Authorities received a report of a missing woman named Zhang Chu, who disappeared after leaving her home on April 26. Chu, a saleswoman employed at an electronics factory in Shanghai, had been divorced for eight years. According to family members, Chu was fashion-conscious and financially comfortable, often visiting bars and nightclubs to meet new men.

Due to the complexity of her social relationships and promiscuous lifestyle, authorities faced difficulties in identifying men who had interacted with Chu.

Through interviews with locals, investigators learned that Chu had confronted a man outside his home demanding repayment of a debt, and his residence was close to the riverbank where the body was found. The suspect was summoned for questioning on May 13 but was later released due to lack of evidence.

Chu primarily sold medical electronic equipment and frequently visited various hospitals. Consequently, authorities focused on hospital procurement staff with connections to Chu. However, most individuals were uncooperative with the police, refusing to provide information.

After numerous investigative efforts, two suspects emerged.

The first suspect, a man surnamed Gai, 45 years old, was a former boyfriend who had lived with Chu. Their relationship soured due to Gai’s disapproval of Chu’s “materialistic” lifestyle. On April 27, Gai borrowed a three-wheeled cargo bike under the pretext of “transporting goods.” He was initially considered a suspect due to motives, means, and transportation tools. However, after verifying Gai’s whereabouts from April 26 to April 29, authorities concluded that he was not involved in the crime.

The second suspect, a man surnamed Bao, 47 years old, also lived with Chu and had a history of alcohol addiction and domestic violence. A neighbor noticed scratches on Bao’s face shortly after Chu’s disappearance, and he hastily left town for a week. However, further investigation revealed that the scratches were caused by a dispute with his wife over infidelity.

With leads reaching a dead end, investigators had to revisit the starting point of their investigation after more than a month of searching.

On July 12, a factory worker provided a new lead, recalling a conversation with a man she met at a nightclub who claimed that the “woman found in the river” was his ex-girlfriend. The man had visited her home twice, but she only remembered the street name, not the specific address. Police accompanied her to search the area, eventually identifying the man’s residence.

Doi Phuc Duong after being arrested.
Doi Phuc Duong after being arrested.

According to household registration information, the homeowner was named Du Phuc Duong, 47 years old, from Zhejiang Province, with a previous conviction for robbery resulting in a seven-year prison sentence. Since his divorce eight years prior, Duong had been involved with multiple women, frequently visiting nightclubs and bars to “hunt” for companions.

Several witnesses identified Chu as having visited Duong’s residence. Consequently, Duong became the prime suspect in the case. However, he was not present in Shanghai at the time. According to neighbors, Duong often left the city for periods ranging from two weeks to a month.

On July 26, authorities received intelligence that Duong had returned, prompting an immediate arrest operation. However, upon arrival at his residence, Duong had already left. To avoid alerting him, police discreetly surveilled the area for over 20 days.

Around 9 pm on August 3, after more than 20 days of wandering, Duong was apprehended upon returning home. During interrogation, he denied knowing Chu.

A search of Duong’s residence revealed bloodstains and scratches on furniture, along with items belonging to Chu, such as a watch, a bus pass with Chu’s photo, a leather bag containing several letters, and documents printed with the name of the factory where Chu worked.

Subsequent forensic analysis confirmed that the bloodstains matched Chu’s blood type, and the other items were identified by her relatives as belongings she had before her disappearance.

Confronted with the evidence, Duong confessed to the crime.

According to his confession, Duong and Chu met at a nightclub in early March 1993. Upon noticing Chu’s fashionable attire and ostentatious display of wealth, Duong conceived a plan to rob her.

On the evening of April 26, after engaging in sexual intercourse, Duong spiked Chu’s milk with sleeping pills before committing the crime. In the early hours of April 27, Duong placed Chu’s body in a bag, transported it to the riverbank using a cargo bike, and disposed of it upstream in a secluded area.

After 98 days of investigation, Shanghai’s murder mystery and body dumping case were finally resolved. Duong received the death penalty for intentional homicide and was executed.

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