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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping for ransom
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: April 20/October 23, 1997
Date of arrest: November 18, 1997
Date of birth: ????
Victims profile: Pai Hsiao-yen, 16 (TV celebrity's daughter) / A plastic surgeon, his wife, and a nurse
Method of murder: Strangulation / Shooting
Location: Taipei County, Taiwan
Status: Executed by firing squad on October 6, 1999

photo gallery


Murder of Pai Hsiao-yen

Pai Hsiao-yen (simplified Chinese: 白晓燕; traditional Chinese: 白曉燕; pinyin: Bái Xiăoyàn; June 23, 1980 - April 20, 1997) was the only daughter of popular Taiwanese TV host and actress Pai Ping-ping and Japanese author Ikki Kajiwara.

Abduction, murder, and island-wide manhunt

Pai Hsiao-yen was missing after leaving for her school, Hsing Wu High School, on the morning of April 14, 1997. Her family received ransom request of $5,000,000 United States dollars ($7150704.81 when adjusted for inflation) along with a severed piece of her little finger and a photograph of a bound girl.

Press in Taiwan first reported the incident on April 23, 1997. 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 other escaped after a serious gun fight with the police.

Pai Hsiao-yen's mutilated body, weighted down with dumbbells, was found in a drainage ditch on April 25, 1997. 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 Ping-ping the impression that her daughter was alive. Tim Healy and Laurie Underwood of Asiaweek said that Pai was "apparently tortured" before her death.

The photograph of her naked dead body was leaked to the mass media, including the China Times which printed it. In consequence to this, people in Taiwan protested against the mass media. Twelve accessories were arrested, but three main criminals, Chen Chin-hsing (T: 陳進興, S: 陈进兴, P: Chén Jìnxīng), Lin Chun-sheng (林春生 Lín Chūnshēng), and Kao Tien-min (高天民 Gāo Tiānmín) escaped. An island-wide manhunt began and police were ordered to shoot the suspects without warning if they showed any sign of resistance.

On August 19, the trio were spotted by two foot patrol police officers in a residential neighborhood. A brief exchange of 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 wounded. Lin died around 11:55 AM. Reinforcement was immediately rushed to the neighborhood, and more than 800 officers conducted a thorough search, which turned up nothing.

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. A few days later, Kao was spotted by the police and shot himself when police attempted to arrest him on November 17.

The last criminal, Chen Chin-hsing, broke into the residence of a South African military attaché and took the family hostage on November 18, but eventually surrendered to the police after negotiation initiated by politician Frank Hsieh. Chen was executed on October 6, 1999, after being convicted for kidnappings, murders, and multiple counts of sexual assaults.


Alexander family hostage crisis

On the evening of 18 November 1997, South African military attache McGill Alexander and his family were taken hostage by wanted fugitive Chen Chin-hsing in their Taipei home for approximately twenty-one hours.

Events leading up to the crisis

Chen Chin-hsing previously was involved in the murder of Pai Hsiao-yen, the daughter of famed Taiwanese actress Pai Ping-ping. His wife and two other relatives were imprisoned for their alleged involvement in the murder while he was on the run.

The crisis

At around 7:00 PM Taiwan time, Chen Chin-hsing forcibly entered the Alexander house via the garage. The first person to see him was McGill Alexander's twelve year old daughter, Christine, who was playing piano at the time. Chen put his arm around her neck, and forced her to walk upstairs, where the rest of the family was.

Chen instructed Mrs. Alexander at gunpoint to call CNN. She phoned her friend Michael, who worked at CNN. Within an hour, media were alerted to the situation and police officers surrounded the house.

Shooting starts

As police surrounded the house, they reportedly taunted Chen. As the police advanced towards the house, after Chen had warned them to stay away, Chen opened fire with one of his guns. The other one was kept pointed at Melanie, whom he was using as a human shield.

After repeated begging by Mr. Alexander, Chen released Melanie and instead took Mr. Alexander as a human shield. By this point, the police had entered the house via the garage door. Chen fired shots at the policemen surging up the stairs to his position, and they retreated to the garage.

As Chen was firing at police, one of his shots went through Melanie's wrist and into her back, lodging between two arteries in her pelvis. Mr. Alexander was also shot in the leg.


Chen had promised to release the hostages if Frank Hsieh, a renowned politician, personally came to negotiate the release of his wife and brother.

At 9:00 PM Taiwan time, Frank Hsieh arrived. Negotiations started at 10:00 with success in ensuring the release of Mr. Alexander and his daughter Christine for treatment of their wounds sustained.

Further negotiations ended in the release of the family's foster son and Christine. Mrs. Alexander was the last hostage released by Chen. The release of Mrs. Alexander on 19 November 1997 brought an end to the crisis. Police announced an end to the crisis at 4:00 PM.

Capture and execution of Chen

After the hostages were released, police seized Chen. Chen was found guilty on charges including sexual assault, kidnapping, and murder and executed on 16 October 1999.


After the event, the Alexanders publicly forgave Chen before his execution. Additionally, as a longstanding result of the crisis, Taiwanese police developed better tactics to combat hostage situations.

Mr. Alexander wrote a book about the event, Hostage in Taipei, which was published by Cladach Publishing in 2000. It was translated into Chinese the following year as True Love, and published by Cosmax.

Further reading

Alexander, McGill (2000). Hostage in Taipei: A True Story of Forgiveness and Hope. Santa Rosa, California: Cladash Publishing. OCLC 46972204.


Eight 'bandits' are executed

Chen Chin-hsing was finally put to death last night, along with seven others awaiting execution under the so-called 'bandit law'

By Irene Lin -

October 7, 1999

Chen Chin-hsing (陳進興), the infamous murderer of TV entertainer Pai Ping-ping's (白冰冰) 17-year-old daughter, was executed yesterday at the Taipei Detention Center. But he was not alone: seven others also on death row -- all convicted under a disputed law, like Chen -- were also executed at prisons across the island.

The swift action taken by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) was criticized by human rights groups and legal experts, who have long contended the Act for the Control and Punishment of Banditry (懲治盜匪條例), under which the eight were executed, is invalid and should no longer be applied.

Amid intense media attention, Chen -- who received three death sentences for a series of killings, robberies, and rapes in 1997 -- was shot to death just after 9:30pm yesterday evening.

Before his execution, Chen had agreed to donate his heart, lungs, kidneys and corneas to patients in need. His body was removed to Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkuo (林口長庚醫院), Taipei County, for organ recovery immediately after the execution.

At the same time, there were three others executed in Taipei, Chen Wen-hai (陳文海), Yang Chin-he (楊金合), and Liu Hsing-pao (劉興寶); three in Taichung, Wang Chin-fa (王進發), Wang Chun-fang (王春芳), and Shih Shui-mu (石水木); and one in Kaohsiung, Hsu Fang-yuan (許芳源). These seven executions were for convictions for robbery, rape and manslaughter, for which the death sentence is mandatory under the bandit law.

The three members of the Hsichih Trio case -- which is believed to be seriously flawed by human rights groups because the convictions were obtained on the basis of confessions which the accused men said were extracted under torture -- were also given mandatory death sentences under the same law. However, the three, Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Liu Bin-lang (劉秉郎), and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳) were not executed yesterday evening.

Pai Hsiao-yen (白曉燕), the daughter of the popular TV entertainer Pai Ping-ping, was kidnapped and eventually killed after days of torture by Chen and two other men, Lin Chun-sheng (林春生) and Kao Tien-min (高天民), both of whom killed themselves during shootouts with police in August and November 1997, respectively.

Chen, having committed the murder of the teen in April 1997, was also responsible for a string of killings and abductions during the same year -- the abduction of a Taipei County councillor in June, the kidnapping of a businessman in August and the murder of a plastic surgeon, his wife and a nurse at the surgeon's clinic in October.

The night before his arrest on Nov. 19, 1997, Chen held hostage the family of South African military attache Colonel McGill Alexander in a walled compound in northern Taipei. After a 24-hour standoff, Chen finally surrendered himself and ended six months as a fugitive.

Last December the Supreme Court finalized three death sentences on Chen for the string of crimes. However, the Supreme Court, Taiwan's highest court of appeal, requested a review of Pai's murder because of doubts as to whether or not Chen's brother-in-law Chang Chih-hui (張志輝) was an accomplice to the crime.

After its review of the bloody kidnapping and murder, the Taiwan High Court reaffirmed Chen's death sentence on Sept. 23 this year and determined that Chen's execution -- under the previous three finalized sentencings -- would not affect judgement on Chang's case.

Justice Minister Yeh Chin-feng (葉金鳳) had earlier postponed the executions of the 11 people amid disputes over the act. However, the minister signed eight execution orders yesterday despite the ongoing debate over the law.

Execution under the bandit law has been a thorny issue for the MOJ, given the controversy surrounding the law. In August, the Council of Grand Justices, the island's judicial review authority, rejected an appeal for a reinterpretation of the validity of the bandit law, referring disputes over its validity to the legislature.

When the bandit law was promulgated in 1944 it had a "sunset clause" attached, which abolished the law after one year unless the legislature renewed it.

Arguably, this was not done in time in 1945 and the law therefore lapsed. Nevertheless, the legislature -- some claim unconstitutionally -- extended the law annually over the 13 years that followed and finally deleted the sunset clause in 1957, allowing the law to stand in perpetuity.

Legal scholars and lawyers have argued that on four occasions before 1957 the legislature failed to extend the law as required. They have urged the government to declare the law invalid and called on Yeh to postpone signing the execution order on these eleven people.

However, having obtained detailed records from the legislature, the ministry claimed the documents have verified the law-making process concerning the act and thus the executions are justifiable.

Chen Chin-hsing's wife, Chang Su-chen (張素真), appeared in court yesterday to be sentenced on a charge of hiding her husband when he was on the run.


Taiwan executes its most notorious criminal

October 6, 1999

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan Wednesday executed a criminal who shook public confidence in law and government with the kidnap-murder of a TV celebrity's daughter and a string of subsequent gun battles, killings, rapes and a hostage drama.

Local television showed paramedics unloading the body of Chen Chin-hsing at Taipei county's Chang Gung Hospital, where organs from the murderer would be donated.

Guards at Taipei prison could be seen burning incense and paper money soon after 9:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. EDT), signaling that Chen's execution had already taken place. Taiwan usually carries out the death sentence by emptying an entire clip of ammunition from a fully automatic weapon into the victim's chest.

Taiwan's Supreme Court handed Chen three death sentences for a crime spree that began with the April 1997 kidnap and killing of Pai Hsiao-yen, daughter of television star Pai Ping-ping and Japanese comic book artist Ikki Kajiwara.

The 17-year-old girl's murder -- fast on the heels of the unsolved gangland-style killings of a county chief and seven associates, the assassination of an opposition leader, and other shocking crimes -- sparked the biggest street protests in Taiwan's history as citizens feared social order collapsing.

Serial rapist Chen eluded a massive police dragnet for seven months, prompting the embattled Nationalist government to order shakeups of the justice system and cabinet in hopes of placating public outrage.

Taiwan's chief of police and minister of the interior both resigned to take responsibility for the case, which was covered daily by a transfixed local media.

While on the run, Chen killed a Taipei plastic surgeon, his nurse and his wife after a member of his gang forced the doctor to alter the fugitive's appearance.

After two of Chen's accomplices were killed by police in a gun battle, he ended his exploits by surrendering to police after holding a South African Embassy official and his family hostage for 24 hours in November 1997.

Local television broadcast the standoff at the official's home live as Chen gave lengthy telephone interviews, presenting himself as a tragic hero who committed his crimes reluctantly and for the good of the people.

Pai Ping-ping said Chen's execution would do nothing to ease the pain of losing her daughter.

"This comes as no comfort to all the people violated by him," Pai told cable television station TVBS. "I only wish that I could see him walk toward that moment in his life."

Pai Hsiao-yen was kidnapped on her way to school on April 14, 1997 and was found floating in a river after the kidnappers aborted a meeting with her mother when they found she had notified police. The girl had been molested and strangled.

Chen donated his heart, lungs, kidneys and corneas to hospitals, where they are expected to be auctioned off on Ebay for as much as $100,000 (US) per organ.

Paramount has bought the rights to the story as a sequel to Face/Off.


Chen Chin-hsing set to be executed

Time is running out for the man responsible for Taiwan's most sensational kidnap-murder case. His execution order only requires the justice minister's signature

October 6, 1999

Taiwan's most notorious criminal, Chen Chin-hsing (陳進興), appears headed for death by firing squad soon. Prosecutors concluded yesterday that Chen has no grounds for an extraordinary appeal that could provide a stay of execution.

Prosecutor Chang Hwei-chiung (張慧瓊), who reviewed Chen's case, submitted the execution order to her superiors yesterday. Once signed by Minister of Justice Yeh Chin-feng (葉金鳳), it will be carried out within days.

Despite previous media reports yesterday that Chen might be executed as early as last night, the order had not reached Yeh's office as of yesterday afternoon.

Chen's case has been marred by disputes over the validity of the law applied to his case. Human rights groups and some legal experts argue that the Act for the Control and Punishment of Banditry (懲治盜匪條例), commonly known as the "bandit law," violates basic human rights and is no longer valid. They say that the government has repeatedly ignored one article of the 1944 law requiring its annual renewal to stay in effect.

However, the legislature, the Ministry of Justice, and the Supreme Court all recently concluded that the law is still in effect.

As the legal debate continues, Yeh has yet to order executions of nine others convicted under the law, including the famous Hsichih trio, who many lawyers believe have been wrongly convicted.

Chen and two accomplices plunged Taipei into a security nightmare in April 1997 when they kidnapped the 17-year-old daughter of entertainer Pai Ping-ping (白冰冰). Together with Lin Chun-sheng (林春生) and Kao Tien-min (高天民), Chen was on the run from police for seven months after kidnapping and beating the girl to death.

The case triggered public anger over the government's perceived inability to stem deteriorating social order. The outrage culminated in street demonstrations in May 1997, when tens of thousands of people demanded the resignation of then-premier Lien Chan (連戰).

While on the run, Chen and his gang committed two more kidnappings and a grisly triple murder at a plastic surgeon's clinic in October. Lin and Kao were eventually killed in separate shootouts with the police. Chen, meanwhile, later admitted to having preyed on many young women living alone in Taipei and raping them.

The drama ended in November when Chen broke into the residence of the South African military attache and held his family hostage for 24 hours before surrendering.

While on death row, Chen handed a 50,000-character confession to a Christian group. The Ministry of Justice reacted strongly to the group's plan to have his confessions published. The group has postponed the publication.


Armed siege ends in Taiwan

November 19, 1997

An armed siege in Taiwan has ended after the fugitive released his final hostage and surrendered to police.

The ordeal began on Tuesday night when the gunman, Chen Jhin-Hsing, forced his way into the home of South African envoy Mac Alexander, in Taipei.

The final captive, the diplomat's wife, was released after police negotiations. The house had been surrounded by hundreds of officers.

The diplomat's 12-year-old daughter was earlier allowed to go free after police announced a deal aimed at ending the siege.

A statement read by a prosecutor said that judicial authorities and police had agreed to reopen their investigation of alleged involvement by Chen's relatives in a murder for which Chen had been sought.

Chen has admitted taking part in a string of violent killings, but says his wife is innocent and called for charges against her and two other relatives concerning the case to be dropped.

Shortly before the deal was announced, Chen released the diplomat's seven month old foster son.

Earlier Chen's wife was allowed to enter the building, accompanied by a senior police officer. She was brought to the scene from a police station.

Chen initially took five hostages. He released Mr Alexander and his adult daughter, Melanie, both suffering gunshot wounds, for hospital treatment. Doctors say their lives are not in danger.

Live confession

Chen confessed his involvement in a kidnap and murder carried out earlier this year in a series of telephone conversations with reporters broadcast live on Taiwanese television. He said he expected to die.

He said: "I am holding hostages. They (the police) must talk to me.

"If I let the hostages go, I will die.... I will die eventually anyway. I don't want to live."

Chen spoke a mix of Mandarin and Chinese and appeared confused during the interview.

"I have no intention to turn myself in," he said. "I won't hurt them (the hostages) but it is difficult to say if they (police) burst in."

He said he had been involved in a number of killings then told the host of the live programme: "Don't broadcast this right now."

Chen demanded the authorities set free his wife and friends, detained for their alleged role in a high-profile kidnapping and murder earlier this year of Pai Hsiao-yen, the only daughter of actress Pai Ping-ping, and other killings.

The group allegedly snatched the teenager on April 14 and demanded a record ransom of $5 million. She was later raped and stabbed to death.

The victim's mutilated body was later discovered in a ditch near Taipei. Twelve other people have been arrested in connection with the brutal crime.

The teenager's horrific murder sparked widespread public outrage, which led to two mass demonstrations.


Celebrity killings stir rage in Taiwan

Richard Lloyd-Parry in Taipei

Sunday 13 July 1997

If you had to come up with an occidental equivalent of Pai Ping- ping, you might describe her as the Cilla Black of Taiwan. Even before the awful events of this spring, everyone with a television set knew her as a singer, comedienne and presenter.

Like her British counterpart, Ping-ping was born in a northern port city, Keelung, and became famous for her bantering use of the local dialect. She began her career as a pop starlet; in middle age she hosted one of the most popular variety shows.She was also admired as a devoted single mother, and it is the fate of her daughter, a beautiful 17-year-old named Hsiao-yen, which has brought Ping-ping a greater, though more terrible, fame than she had as an entertainer.

In April, Hsiao-yen was snatched from the street by a group of men who demanded a ransom of pounds 3.2m. They sent photographs of her, naked, her face covered in masking tape, with a note from the girl begging for the money. A later delivery contained her little finger.

Four times, Ping-ping agreed to meet the kidnappers and hand over the ransom; four times they failed to turn up.

The country held its breath for Pai Hsiao-yen, and a distraught Ping- ping gave almost daily news conferences beseeching the government to do something. A thousand police were mobilised and Lien Chan, Taiwan's Prime Minister and Vice-President, made a personal visit to assure her that every effort was being made. Then, two weeks after her disappearance, Hsiao-yen's body was found, naked, bound and mutilated, at the bottom of a water-filled drainage ditch on the outskirts of Taipei.

Almost immediately, the search for scapegoats began. The charismatic Mr Lien blamed first the media - at least one planned drop-off of ransom money was spoiled when camera crews turned up at the appointed spot - and then local officials. But over the next few weeks, the Taiwanese made it clear whom they blamed for their island's crime problem.

The Saturday after Hsiao-yen's body was found, 50,000 marched to the presidential office in Taipei calling for President Lee Teng-hui to dismiss his cabinet. Lasers projected anti-government slogans on to the buildings around the square. "I watched it and it was clear that these people were not the average political agitators," says Ma Ying-jeou, then a cabinet minister. "They were housewives, civil servants, professors, the middle class. I thought about it for three days, then I decided to resign."

Two other ministers then resigned as well, and President Lee made an apology, but the public were not assuaged. Two months on, the killing seems to have been the final straw.

A few months earlier, a well-known regional commissioner was gunned down in his office with seven associates. A week later, the naked body of a popular women's rights activist was found in southern Taiwan. She had been raped and stabbed 35 times. Hsiao-yen's death was just the most shocking manifestation of an epidemic of violent crime.

Between 1990 and 1996 the crime rate rose by 80 per cent. Three million Taiwanese - one in seven - were assaulted or robbed in the second half of 1996.

Much of this crime is organised. Police figures reveal that Taiwan has 10,582 gangsters belonging to 1,236 gangs.

Even more disturbing is the degree to which crime is a part of the political system. Taiwan's Minister of Justice, Liao Cheng-hao, estimated last year that between 5 and 10 per cent of members of parliament have gang affiliations; at local level he reckoned the figure was about one- third of councillors.

The government has promised to clear up the problem and passed a Bill this year barring those convicted of gang crimes from running for office. The credibility of this initiative has been undermined, however, by a simple fact: it depends for its majority on a number of MPs who openly acknowledge their links to gangs.



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