About a year ago we ran an article about Haiyang Zhu who murdered international  student Xin Yang.  Ms Yang  had been at Tech only about 2 weeks,  Zhu had been appointed as a mentor to help her become acclimated to Tech.  Both students were from China.

Zhu didn’t just murder Ms. Yang.  He decapitated her.  This week Mr. Zhu plead guilty to first degree murder.  He faces up to life in prison.  Mr. Zhu reportedly had been very troubled before the murder.  Managers at the apartment complex where he lived had tried to get Blacksburg police involved because of the strange behavior he exibited, to no avail. 

At the time of the murder, there was no reason given for this brutal, horrifying murder that took place on the campus where the most grisly mass murder  had recently  place in the spring of 2007.   Now we are told that Mr. Zhu had been rejected by Ms. Yang.  She had told him that she had a boyfriend and that they planned to marry in the future.  Apparently Mr. Zhu found this plan to be unacceptable.  According to FoxNews:

Prosecutor Brad Finch said on the morning of the killing Jan. 21, Zhu bought the 8-inch butcher knife used in the murder, two other knives and a claw hammer. He also called the 22-year-old woman a dozen times after buying the weapons.

Finch cited a letter Zhu wrote while in jail, which said Yang’s rejection “forced him to kill her” because “he loved her too much.”

“Xin broke his heart on the morning of January 20th when she told him that she had a boyfriend and that they planned to get married,” the letter said, according to Finch.


Before the killing, Zhu penned what Finch termed a love letter that was found in her dorm room. The letter was written shortly after Zhu first met her and indicated he had “fallen deeply in love.”

“She makes him happy and fulfilled, that she is beautiful and that he will treasure her forever,” Finch said. “The defendant asked Xin to be his girlfriend.”

Finch also described the attack in detail, noting that Yang suffered numerous defensive wounds to her hands and arms as she tried to fend off Zhu. She eventually fell and he severed her head. He was holding it when police arrived.

About seven other people who were in the shop at the time told police the two hadn’t been arguing before the attack.

What kind of person kills and decapitates just because a relative stranger refuses to be their girlfriend?  He was a mentor, helping Ms. Yang adjust to her new life at Tech.  They had known each other for 2 weeks, for God’s sake!  We don’t send our children to college to be killed.  Far too many young people are being killed or are disappearing on or near college campuses in Virginia. 

What steps can be taken by the State of Virginia to try to stop what seems like an epidemic of college student death?   Everytime one picks up a newspaper it seems that another Tech student has disappeared like Morgan Harrington who was attending a concert in Charlottesville. She has been missing for several months.  We read about  another student being shot in a hunting accident like Ferrum grad student Jessica Goode who was just out enjoying a fall afternoon with friends.   Heidi Lynn Childs and her friend David Lee Metzler, both of VA Tech were shot and murdered at a recreation area  near the Jefferson National Forest  about 10-15 miles from  Tech.  Longwood professor Debra Kelley who along with her family, was brutally murdered in her home this September. 

The State of Virginia faces severe budget cuts.  These cuts cannot be made to college mental health facilities.  Too much is at stake.   Colleges must do more to ensure that students with serious mental problems don’t continue to create statistics for our state.  Not all of these horrific murders and acts  have been committed by students but some have, and that is a good place to start some self-examination. 

 All too often these types of stories just fade away.  We never hear any more about the story or the people.  It is time for us to start asking why and demanding some answers.  Something really is just not right.