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Flushing murder inspires tougher stand on stalkers

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Elected officials have rushed in to help the family of a Flushing woman who was viciously murdered last week by exploring legislation to keep better tabs on violent predators and obtaining visas to bring her immediate family from China to the United Statesfor her funeral.

State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) are investigating possible state legislative changes that would increase penalties for people who violate multiple orders of protection in the aftermath of the grisly murder of a woman inside her Flushing apartment house.

Their actions were inspired by the vicious slaying and mutilation of 46-year-old Qian Wu in the hallway of her building Jan. 26. The accused killer, Huang Chen, 47, had allegedly been stalking her for years and had nine orders of protection filed against him by Wu, according to police.

“Sen. Stavisky and I are looking into legislation now so these laws could be strengthened to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Meng said. “Now, when you violate an order of protection, you are basically held in contempt of court, and that in New York state as of 2006 is a felony. But we’re looking into possibly strengthening the law so that anyone constantly violating numerous orders of protections would be charged with a higher-degree felony.”

Wu’s husband, Yongwei Guo, a food deliverer who was a police officer in China, told Meng last week that in China a violent offender with multiple orders of protection against him, such as Chen, who spent 30 days in jail in 2006 for punching and choking Wu with a rope, would have been arrested.

Meng and Stavisky also support a law currently before both houses of the Legislature that would require courts to notify victims of imprisoned stalkers and harassers when they are released.

U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and Meng secured visas Monday morning for Wu’s father and brother, who live in China, so they could come to Queens to bury Wu, Meng said. Her son Nicholas, an American citizen attending high school in China, is also expected to return to attend the funeral, which has not been scheduled, according to Meng.

Walter Chi, an aide to City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing), said it will be up to three weeks before the body can be positively identified as investigators wait for the FBI to send Wu’s fingerprints. In the meantime, Chen is unable to attain a death certificate because the body is so badly damaged he is not allowed to make a visual identification, Chi said, and as such cannot begin funeral preparations.

The medical examiner’s office said the cause of death was blunt trauma to the head and severed arteries.

Koo’s office is assisting Guo, who does not speak English, with a number of tasks that have arisen since Wu’s death, including helping him to apply for state funds for people whose family members are murdered.

The 109th Precinct declined Tuesday afternoon to comment on new developments in the case.

Wu’s murder was the culmination of an alleged sustained campaign of stalking and harassment by Chen that lasted four years, according to police. Chen was angry about being rejected by Wu’s employment agency, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

Chen was arrested after assaulting Wu in 2006 and after serving 30 days in jail was put on supervised release, the DA’s office said.

He avoided Wu for several years, but moved in two doors down and began bothering her again Jan. 11, trying to open the door to her apartment every couple of days, according to Meng. Wu attempted unsuccessfully to file orders of protection against Chen three times last month, including as recently as Jan. 22, Meng said.

On Jan. 26 Chen allegedly followed Wu into the hallway of her apartment building at 135-32 40th Rd., bashed her head in with a hammer and cut her body open with a utility knife, police said. It was the first time Wu had left the apartment in days, Meng said.

He allegedly proceeded to pull out some of her organs, leaving a gruesome scene a neighbor later discovered, but police still had not found Wu’s heart or lungs several days after the slaying, police said.

Chen allegedly fled the scene and was later caught by police after checking in at New York Hospital Queens for wounds police believe he sustained during the murder. His landlord, Wenxin Zhang, was charged with two counts of tampering with evidence after police allegedly observed her taking a bag containing the suspected murder weapons and bloody clothing out of her building, according to the DA’s office. The bag was found a half block away in a trash can.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 5:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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