The cold case murder of Jian Fang - San Francisco, California - December 18, 1993

The in 1993 murdered Jian Fang

On December 18, 1993, just a week before Christmas, Jian Fang and one of his employees were on their way in his red van, presumably to collect money from his business associates. Jian was a 42-year-old businessman who successfully supplied dozens of restaurants in San Francisco's Chinatown with noodles. But when they were just on their way, they were surprised in the van by two armed assailants. One punched employee Mrs. Yee with a gun to the back of her head and threatened not to turn around. The other threatened Jian with a knife. Both robbers are said to have screamed for 'the money' as they demolished the interior of the van. Jian, who collected money (around $1000) every day from the restaurants he supplied, decided after thirthy minutes to make an attempt to overpower the robbers. However, it would not end well for him. The criminal with the knife stabbed him straight in the heart, fatally wounding him. The two perpetrators then fled into the night, with a loot of $ 100. Mrs. Yee was told to sit still before. As a result, she stayed in the car for no less than two hours before she dared to take action. Jian was already dead.

Police Investigation

The police initially heard Mrs Yee, the only witness to the murder. She stated that the two robbers (both no older than 30, according to her) spoke fluent Cantonese and that they kept screaming for "the money, the money." The vehicle was carefully searched for evidence. Although no fingerprints were found, the murder weapon was found. A cheap 99 cent kitchen steak knife that looked like it had been washed hundreds of times. A gun was also found in the van, which turned out not to be a real one but a BB gun. Unfortunately, no further traces were found, nor other witnesses. The detectives had to make do with Mrs Yee's statements and the weapons found without DNA or prints. 

The investigation was therefore very difficult, until an anonymous phone call came in three weeks after the murder. The tipster said the murder was likely related to gambling, rather than a petty robery. He said Jian was an avid sports gambler with connections in the Chinese gambling community, and had collected $25,000 in cash on the day of his death. The police were initially very happy with this tip, but because nothing could be verified, they ended up with a dead end.

Collage class
Because the investigation did not go smoothly, the detective in charge, Prentice Sanders, enlisted the help of a college class. This class included people who were studying to become homicide detectives. The case was carefully presented to them, after which the students had to come up with scenarios.

The alternative research method provided new insights. For example, one student thought that Jian Fang would have been met by people from the gambling circuit, who knew that he had a lot of money in his pocket that day.

The other thought that the robbery murder was the work of amateurish Vietnamese, who often speak Cantonese effortlessly. Many immigrants from Vietnam wanted to impress the big boys. Why else would they work with such a cheap knife and a BB gun?

Yet another student thought Mrs Yee had something to do with the murder. After all, why did she wait two long hours to get help? And why couldn't she describe the perpetrators better?

2nd anonymous tip
Shortly after the briefing of the students, a call came in from a second anonymous informant. This one told Inspector Sanders that the murder was related to illicit betting. Another tip pointing in the direction of the gambling world. And while Sanders believed this tip was credible, again no breakthrough was made in the case. 

Tips and Information
Police attention in the media did not lead to more interesting tips, and the case fell into a trough where it still is today. The leads are gone, and new, detailed information is needed to solve Jian's murder. Do you know more about Jian Fang's murder? Every little detail can shed new light on the matter. Who were his gambling contacts? Did he have enemies? Who knew his route? Please let me know if you have any information. Don't hesitate and get in touch now (anonymously) using the form below.

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