Posted on: May 18, 2022, 12:28h.
Last updated on: May 18, 2022, 12:36h.
A man suspected of strangling to death two women in a hotel room at the MGM Cotai in Macau May 5 has been arrested in China’s Hunan province.
The 34-year-old suspect, named only as Zhao, was identified quickly by Macau police following the grisly discovery of the women’s bodies. But they discovered that he had fled to the mainland the morning after the killings. He crossed the Border Gate into Zhuhai at around 7:30 am on May 6, authorities said.
A manhunt operation involving more than 700 mainland Chinese police officers tracked Zhao to Hongjiang City in Hunan, a mountainous province in the south of the country. Police offered a reward of 50,000 yuan (US$7,400) for information leading to Zhao’s capture, splashing his face across social media, and were reportedly rewarded with a tip-off.
Skilled in Deception
Authorities have supplied little additional information about Zhao, other than that he is believed to be from Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province, which borders Russia. Police said he was skilled in deception and in disguising his movements.
Unnamed sources who spoke to The Hong Kong Standard said he has a criminal record, “including picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Zhao entered Macau on April 29, staying in several hotels under his own name. Then he moved to a room in the MGM Cotai that had been booked by another individual. Police believe the booking was either sold or lent to the suspect.
Zhao arranged for the first victim, a woman who worked for an illegal money-exchange gang in the city, to come to his room at around 9 pm to change some currency, police said.
Around four hours later, at 1 am, he left the room and went gambling in the casino with HK$600,000 (US$76,000). Authorities believe some or all of this money was stolen from the victim. He lost all of it. At this point he appeared to be wearing a wig or a hat, police said.
Three hours later, he brought the second victim, a prostitute, to the room.
Hotel staff found the naked bodies of the two women in the room in the early hours of May 7, after Zhao had departed. Both were wrapped in quilts. Strangulation marks were found on both necks.
The suspect had taken their phones, ID cards, and other possessions. Police said he had attempted to clean up the crime scene.
It is unclear whether Zhao will be tried in Macau or on the mainland. Macau does not have the death penalty. China does, and it pursues it frequently for crimes less grave than this.