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RCMP officer testifies about suitcase, human remains on island

Richmond exchange student Yuan Xi Tang is on trial for first-degree murder of his mother
Yuan Xi Tang, right, and his father Jihui Tang hold posters asking for public assistance in the disappearance of Tang's mother, Lianjie Guo. The younger Tang now is on trial for her murder.

Powell River RCMP Cpl. Aaron Hamilton was off duty when he received a call from his supervisor on July 29, 2012 about the discovery of a body on Harwood Island.

Hamilton was needed to collect evidence and captain the RCMP boat that would take him and his colleagues to the uninhabited island northwest of Powell River.

Hamilton, his supervisor and the coroner left the marina around 6 p.m. and arrived at the north shore of the island 20 minutes later.

From the boat, he saw investigators gathered on the beach, and as he came ashore and approached the scene he could see what they were examining.

“As I walked toward the members there was a black suitcase and a yellow identifying tag marked with the number 1,” Hamilton told jurors Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver during the murder trial of Yuan Xi Tang.

Tang, 28, is charged with the first-degree murder of his mother, 47-year-old Lianjie Guo.

Hamilton said the large suitcase — 75 centimetres tall, 50 centimetres wide and 35 centimetres deep — was unzipped and dark blue and white material was hanging out of the case, as if animals had been tugging at it. Nearby was what appeared to be a bone.

Hamilton seized the suitcase and bone and took them to Vancouver General Hospital, where they were examined on Aug. 1 by forensic pathologist Dr. Carol Lee.

Crown prosecutors are alleging that Tang killed his mother on June 7, 2012, the day she and his father were supposed to leave for China after visiting him in Richmond for a couple of weeks.

When she came to his room in the rooming house where they were all staying, he allegedly hit her in the head with a hammer and smothered her with bedding until she was dead. Then, he put her in a suitcase and dumped it off the No. 2 Road bridge into the Fraser River that night.

Tang reported her missing the next day.

Tang was the subject of an undercover police operation in August and September of 2012. Officers posed as criminals who had discovered the suitcase containing Guo’s body during a fishing trip. They contacted Tang and offered to dispose of the suitcase and remains for a fee. They said they needed details about the homicide to do so.

Tang allegedly admitted to killing his mother and wanting to kill his father because they were controlling. He told the officers how he killed his mother and disposed of her body and did a re-enactment of the murder that the officers filmed.

After Tang was arrested on Sept. 7, 2012, police interviewed him and told him about some of the evidence they had collected so far. They showed him photographs and video clips.

Crown said Tang initially denied killing his mother, but then confessed.

The trial continues.