Murder of Pai Hsiao-yen

Pai Hsiao-yen (Chinese: 白曉燕; 23 June 1980 – 20 April 1997) was the only daughter of popular Taiwanese TV host and actress Pai Bing-bing and Japanese author Ikki Kajiwara.

Pai Hsiao-yen
Pai Hsiao-yen.jpg
Pai Hsiao-yen

(1980-06-23)23 June 1980
Died20 April 1997(1997-04-20) (aged 16)
Cause of deathMurdered
EducationHsing Wu High School
Pai Hsiao-yen
Traditional Chinese白曉燕
Simplified Chinese白晓燕

Abduction, murder, and island-wide manhuntEdit


Pai Hsiao-yen disappeared after leaving for her school, Hsing Wu High School,[1] on the morning of April 14, 1997. Her family received a ransom note demanding US$5,000,000 (equivalent to about $8,440,000 in 2021) along with a severed piece of her little finger and a photograph of a bound girl.[2]

Press in Taiwan first reported the incident on April 23, 1997, which contradicted the accepted practice of reporting the kidnapping after its resolution.[2] Some of the pre-planned ransom drops were aborted when kidnappers spotted police and media tailing Pai Bing-bing.[2] However, after the abductors negotiated with the police for 11 days and changed the locations of payment more than 20 times, the police finally decoded the communication methods used by the abductors. In the subsequent police raid, one suspect was arrested while two others escaped after an intense gun fight with the police.[citation needed]


Pai Hsiao-yen's mutilated body, weighted down with dumbbells, was found in a drainage ditch on April 28, 1997.[3] Investigators said that she had been dead for ten days before her body's discovery. Ransom negotiations had continued after the likely time of Pai's death; an impersonator placed a telephone call to give Pai Bing-bing the impression that her daughter was alive. Tim Healy and Laurie Underwood of Asiaweek said that Pai was "apparently tortured" before her death.[2] The photograph of her naked dead body was leaked to the mass media, including the China Times, which printed it.[4]

Twelve suspects were arrested, but three of the main criminals, Chen Chien-hsing (陳進興; Chén Jìnxīng), Lin Chun-sheng (林春生; Lín Chūnshēng), and Kao Tien-meen (高天民; Gāo Tiānmín) escaped. A fourth person, Chang Chih-huei (張志輝; Zhāng Zhìhuī, Chen's brother-in-law) was suspected of involvement, but his sentence was eventually overturned due to insufficient evidence.[5][6] An island-wide manhunt began and the police were ordered to fatally shoot and kill the suspects without warning if they showed any sign of resistance.[citation needed]

National manhuntEdit

While being pursued, the trio abducted Taipei County councilor Tsai Ming-tang in June 1997 and a businessman surnamed Chen in August 1997.[7] On August 19, the trio was spotted by two foot patrol police officers on Wuchang Street (五常街) in Taipei's Zhongshan District. A brief exchange of gun fire ensued and Lin turned the gun on himself after he was shot six times; one of the officers was killed and the other one was wounded. Lin died around 11:55 AM.[8] Reinforcement was immediately rushed to the neighborhood, and more than 800 officers conducted a thorough search, which turned up nothing.[9]

On October 23, Kao and Chen shot and killed a plastic surgeon, his wife, and a nurse after forcing them to perform plastic surgery on them. Kao and Chen eluded a massive police search in early November 1997.[10] A few days later, Kao was spotted by the police and shot himself when police attempted to arrest him on November 17.[11]

The last criminal, Chen Chin-hsing, broke into the residence of Colonel Edward McGill Alexander, South African military attaché to Taipei, and took the family hostage on November 18,[12] but eventually surrendered to the police after negotiation initiated by politician Frank Hsieh. After being granted media access, Chen confessed to the April kidnapping and other crimes.[13][14] Chen was executed on October 6, 1999, after being convicted in December 1998 for kidnappings, murders, and multiple counts of sexual assaults.[5][7]

Protests and resignationsEdit

Demonstrators marched on 4 May 1997[15] and 18 May 1997,[16] demanding Premier Lien Chan's resignation,[17] partially over the rise in violent crime as evidenced by the then-unsolved murders of Pai, Peng Wan-ru,[18] and Liu Pang-yu.[citation needed] Eight media organizations, including the China Times, which ran the photograph of Pai's body, were condemned during the first protest.[4]

President Lee Teng-hui offered an apology on 15 May 1997,[19] stating Lien would be relieved of his duty as premier and the Cabinet would be reshuffled. Ma Ying-jeou, who was serving as Minister without Portfolio, resigned following the first protest.[20] Lin Fong-cheng, who was serving as Minister of the Interior, also resigned his post following the first protest.[21] Lien Chan resigned his post as Premier on 22 August 1997,[22] as did the director-general of the National Police Agency, Yao Kao-chiao.[23] Lien had repeatedly offered to resign from his other office as Vice President in the wake of the protests; eventually he retained this office until the term ended.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 劉峻谷; 唐復年; 鄭國樑; 曾增勳 (27 April 1997). "白曉燕命案始末" [Pai Bing-bing's daughter kidnapped]. United Daily News. Archived from the original on February 7, 2012. Retrieved September 29, 2009. 十七歲的白曉燕是白冰冰的獨生女,就讀林口鄉醒吾中學二年級,十四日上午七時四十五分從林口鄉忠孝路家中出門上學,但並沒有到學校。
  2. ^ a b c d Healy, Tim; Underwood, Laurie (May 16, 1997). "A mother's despair". Asiaweek. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
  3. ^ Blatt, Jason (29 April 1997). "Grief as kidnap girl, 17, found dead in ditch". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Taiwan Human Rights Report 1997: The Media and Human Rights". Taiwan Association for Human Rights. 1997. Archived from the original on 5 November 2004. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Kidnapper gets death for girl's murder". New Straits Times. Reuter. 26 December 1998. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  6. ^ Chuang, Jimmy (29 October 2004). "Infamous suspect Chang admits to killing woman". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b Lin, Irene (7 October 1999). "Eight 'bandits' are executed". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  8. ^ Lin, Irene (August 31, 2000). "Would-be hero winds up in jail". Taipei Times. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  9. ^ "Taiwan: Wanted criminal shot dead in gunbattle". New Straits Times. Associated Press. 20 August 1997. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Close call for two most wanted men". New Straits Times. 5 November 1997. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  11. ^ Chen, Marlene; Williams, Scott (translator) (December 1999). "Aftershocks from the Pai Hsiao-yen Case". Taiwan Panorama. Retrieved 2 January 2015. {{cite news}}: |author2= has generic name (help)
  12. ^ "Taiwan's most wanted kidnapper takes five hostage, shoots two". New Straits Times. AP. 19 November 1997. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  13. ^ "Murder suspect takes 3 South Africans hostage in Taiwan". Herald-Journal. AP. 19 November 1997. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  14. ^ Huang, Annie (19 November 1997). "Taiwan's Most-wanted Man Gives Up". AP News Archive. AP. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  15. ^ "15,000 in demo against crime". New Straits Times. 5 May 1997. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Marchers Demand That Premier Resign". Spokesman-Review. 19 May 1997. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Chen Chin-hsing set to be executed". Taipei Times. 6 October 1999. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  18. ^ Furse, Jane (11 May 1997). "Taiwan in uproar over girl's killing". New York Daily News. News Wire. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  19. ^ Yu, Susan (16 May 1997). "President offers apology over social order issue". Taiwan Today. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  20. ^ Lloyd-Parry, Richard (13 July 1997). "Celebrity killings stir rage in Taiwan". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-06-18. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  21. ^ WuDunn, Sheryl (14 July 1997). "Crime Invades a Once-Peaceful Place". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  22. ^ Poole, Teresa (22 August 1997). "Taiwan PM quits to have electoral makeover". The Independent (UK). Archived from the original on 2022-06-18. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  23. ^ Huang, Sandy (16 December 2002). "KMT sours to former police head". Taipei Times. Retrieved 5 January 2015.

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