A couple slashed to death by a man living a floor below them in southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung city were found on Monday (Sept 18) to have suffered 13 stab wounds on their bodies. The murder allegedly unfolded before the pair's young sons last week.
The incident occurred at around 7.50am on the 14th floor of a residential building in the city's Wumiao Road last Friday, local police said.
The suspect, surnamed Wu, with a knife in tow, had entered the flat where the couple lived and attacked them before fleeing the scene.
The victims' two sons, aged six and seven, witnessed the attack but were unharmed. They reportedly went downstairs to their apartment building's management office, crying "father and mother have been killed, it was the uncle from the 13th floor", before a security officer called the police.
After forensic analysis lasting nearly eight hours, pathologists on Monday said the murdered man Luo, 35, had been stabbed eight times, including a suspected fatal injury dealt to his chest while he was in bed. His wife Cai, 36, had five wounds, including major punctures to her abdomen and was discovered in the flat's living room. Both were found dead after suffering excessive blood loss.
Wu, a retired employee of a car repair shop, had fled the city on his motorcycle but was nabbed less than three hours later. Police said they had studied the direction of his escape on surveillance cameras and arrested him in Pingtung County, south of Kaohsiung.
While he admitted to the murder at once, prosecutors said Wu, 63, had been uncooperative and exercised his right to silence for long periods. He had also discarded the weapon and his blood-stained clothes when attempting to leave the crime scene.
He also challenged investigators to "show him the evidence" in order for him to talk, Taiwanese online news site The Storm reported, showing little intention to reveal his motive for murder nor the weapon used.
Suspected dispute over a din
Investigators suspect the murder may have been over a dispute over noise, with local police adding that Wu's son had told them about sounds akin to objects hitting the floor over the course of a day.
Wu had made multiple complaints about noise from upstairs, even when the Luo family was not at home, an employee from the apartment building's management told Taiwan's China Times, adding that the neighbours quarrelled over the matter frequently.
The management committee also confirmed that they had mediated disagreements between the neighbours more than once, without them ever escalating into physical altercations.
Last Friday, police retrieved an outer shirt Wu was suspected to have been wearing, as well as a fruit knife suspected as the murder weapon, under the Wanda Bridge near the Gaoping river.
Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chi-mai had said on Saturday that Wu had no history of mental illness. He has been detained while investigations are ongoing.
Wu was reportedly the caretaker for his wife, a stroke survivor with mobility issues, who has said she did not understand why he might have committed the murder.
Victims' sons in shock
Mr Luo's father penned a note last Sunday titled "A tearful note from a victim's father", saying he will be treating his grandsons like his own children and wanted to protect them from any more harm after the tragic incident.
The elder boy, a first-year student in elementary school, was in tears after the incident, Taiwanese media reported family members saying. He had let Wu into the flat, police said.
But his younger brother, who is attending kindergarten, was in an apparent state of shock in the immediate aftermath, and is said to be rejecting physical contact from his family. He was also heard remarking the ketchup that accompanied chicken nuggets he was served "looks like blood", local media reported his grandfather saying.
The Kaohsiung city social affairs bureau made arrangements for psychologists to assess and help the boys deal with the trauma of witnessing the incident, while also deploying a court-trained clinician to help take their statements.