New York police launch fresh appeal to solve 2014 murders of family-of-four

No suspect, no motive, no murder weapon; what happened to this family of four that was “brutally murdered” in 2014?

Amelia Neath
Monday 09 October 2023 16:47 BST
Police are requesting anyone to step forward with information about this case that has stumped them for years
Police are requesting anyone to step forward with information about this case that has stumped them for years (New York State Police)

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A new appeal for any information about a nine-year-old cold case of the quadruple homicide of a family of four from Albany, New York, has been made by police.

“State Police continue to investigate the murder of the Chen family 9 years after the tragedy,” the New York State Police wrote on X. “The NYSP are focused on solving this crime and are asking for assistance.”

So, what happened in to this family and why is this cold case so significant?

The tragic murder of this family of four is well documented in articles from the time as the Capital District’s first quadruple homicide in recent memory.

On 8 October 2014, police found Hai Yan Li, 39, and Jin Feng Chen, 37, along with their two sons Anthony Chen, 10, and Eddy Chen, 7, “brutally murdered at their home on Western Avenue in Guilderland, New York,” police wrote on Facebook.

The family were believed to be from the Fujian province on the southeast coast of China before they moved to the US.

Police at the time believed that the parents and two young boys were killed between 3.30am and 6.30am, yet were not discovered until 1pm when a co-worker found their bodies.

The co-worker’s English was apparently not advanced, so he had to go find someone else to call 911 for him, local newspaper Times Union said.

It is unclear how the family died or what evidence was collected at the scene. At the time, State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Capt Scott Coburn only described finding the four bodies as “really horrific,” the local outlet said.

No firm answer of what weapon used to kill the family has been identified throughout the years; police said they have thought of the possibility that hammers or knives could have been used, said CBS.

According to the local paper, Mr Chen was allegedly involved in handling large amounts of “off-the-books” cash distributed to undocumented workers at Chinese restaurants.

Major Robert Patnaude, who commanded Troop G of the State Police in 2018 said, according to the Times Union, a possibility of organised crime in the homicide "has never been confirmed. It’s certainly a theory."

A case shrouded in mystery remains unsolved nine years later
A case shrouded in mystery remains unsolved nine years later (New York State Police)

Only 600 leads were established from interviewing dozens of potential witnesses, which is a low number for a crime as large as this one.

Police had assistance from local and county investigators, the New York Police Department, the FBI, Homeland Security as well as other agencies, but despite so many authorities looking into the case, authorities remained stumped and the murder stayed unsolved, said the Times Union.

“It’s always shocking to the system when there are children involved,” David Soares, the district attorney in Albany County, said at the time to The New York Times. “But, on the other hand, it also motivates, I think, every person in the room right now to make sure we do everything we can to find out who did this.”

Mr Soares even went as far as offering immunity from deportation for any person who could come forth with information. This was offered as the family was surrounded by a community of undocumented Chinese workers who could have been in the US illegally, the Times Union states.

However, the offer of immunity was never taken in exchange for any knowledge about the murder.

Mr Soares said back in 2015 that it could have been the slow start the the investigation immediately after the bodies were found that could have hindered solving the case.

"There were so many cultural impediments, language barriers and an overwhelming sense of fear," Soares said, according to Times Union, also noting that police were allegedly not able to access the phone records of the deceased parents, as well as having no surveillance footage near the family’s property to refer to.

Mr Coburn also said that DNA evidence gathered at the scene did not help the investigation answer anything.

A reward of $5,000 from a local pastor back in 2019 was offered throughout the years for any information whatsoever on this horrific case, according to CBS.

The case has no suspect, no motive, no causes of death and no murder weapon, yet New York State Police are determined to keep investigating this cold case.

The NYSP is asking people to call 518-457-6811 if they have any information on the murder nine years ago.

The Independent has contacted the New York State Police for further information.

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