By Ross Killion, AsAmNews Staff Writer
For the second time in under four weeks, an Asian woman was murdered while working at a massage studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The victim has been identified as Mary Ye, a Taiwanese mother of two in her fifties. Around 11:00pm on Tuesday, February 15, Albuquerque police found Ye dead on the floor at Canna Spa located in a plaza at the corner of Coors Blvd and Los Volcanes Rd in the city’s Northwest quadrant.
The owner of the business, Liu Xiaoyun, was out of town on Tuesday. Liu noticed something was amiss when Ye did not respond to multiple calls and messages over WeChat. “I immediately started to panic.”, said Liu to AsAmNews. “We had agreed to check in with each other everyday when she closed the shop at 9pm. We were very worried about safety because we heard about recent robberies targeting Asian massage studios in New Mexico and the surge in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past two years.”
Surveillance video obtained by AsAmNews shows the victim dead on the floor while a possible suspect is seen gathering items from an office. We’ve obscured the video of the body out of respect for Ye.
Based on the surveillance video, the suspect entered the studio around 8:30pm pretending to be a customer looking for a half hour massage. Ye and the suspect entered a separate massage room outside of the video’s frame and four minutes later Ye’s lifeless body appeared on the ground at the entrance of the massage room.
“His intention was to murder her. This was targeted.”, said Liu, “They barely interacted and he killed her within minutes of entering the studio. This was more than just a robbery.” The suspect is described as approximately 5 foot 8 inches tall, in his thirties, muscular and either White or Hispanic. It is believed no one else was involved.
Ye is originally from Taiwan and had only been working at Canna Spa for one month. “Mary always had such a lovely smile”, said Liu through tears, “she was a very compassionate and down-to-earth person. She did not deserve this.” Ye is survived by two children and several family members who live in Taiwan and China.
Liu believes the murder was racially motivated and part of a larger pattern of anti-Asian hate crimes. “Asians are marginalized here and there is a very clear pattern of targeted violence directed at Asians all across the country. We are looked down upon and some treat us as less than human,” said Liu.
“There has been so much hate and violence directed at yellow-skin people especially in the past two years. We have been abused and killed and very little has been done to stop it. Just the other day an Asian woman (Christina Luna Lee) was stabbed forty times in New York. This is terrorism.”
Liu, who has lived in multiple cities across the U.S. after immigrating from China five years ago, said she has been the victim of racial discrimination “quite often” and from “all races”. She considers herself lucky that it has only been limited to verbal harassment and poor treatment. “I love America. I love the freedom, the culture and the people but sometimes when I think about all the violence and racism against Asians, I question whether I made the right decision moving here.”
“I want the world to know who Mary Ye was. She was such a sweet, wonderful human being. We need people to pay attention so police can catch the suspect and Ye can receive the justice she deserves. That is the very least we can do for here”.
Liu was also acquainted with Fang Sihui, who was murdered during an attempted robbery three weeks ago. “I met Sihui one year ago. She was such a beautiful person inside and out.”, said Liu, “I only had the fortune of meeting her once but she left an extremely positive impression on me. This is all so terrible.”
“I do not know if it was racially motivated or not”, said Dr. Li Bao, who owns a dental office in the same plaza. “I think criminals consider Asians, particularly women, to be easy targets.”
Li said that he is concerned about security but believes his office is not at high risk because criminals tend to target businesses that are perceived to carry more cash.
“We’ve had a few attempted break-ins overnight but nothing more. They smash the windows but give up trying to get through the plexiglass. Our office has an extensive security system with multiple surveillance cameras. I take security very seriously.”, said Li, “I am more concerned about walking to the car after work. We close before sunset but I still tell my employees to be extra careful.”
The homicide is being investigated by the Albuquerque Police Department.
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