Mummy went missing
THE STORY SO FAR… A little girl, left at the bottom of an escalator in a Melbourne train station, was the key to her mother Annie’s murder. Nicknamed Pumpkin, the nation watched as a manhunt unfolded, and Pumpkin’s dad became the prime suspect... A tot a
The case all alone
Pumpkin. Such a cute nickname for a 3-year-old.
But for this little girl, the nickname wasn’t such a fun one.
She’d been given it by the police – named after the Pumpkin Patch brand of clothes she was wearing when she was found all alone...
But Pumpkin wasn’t lost at the huge train station in Melbourne, Australia, where the police had spotted her on 15 September 2007. She’d been abandoned. The little girl was confused and scared, and unable to understand the officers who asked her in English for her name, why she was there.
And the biggest question of all: where were her mummy and daddy?
They established the little girl’s real name was Qian Xun Xue, though she was also known as Clare Xue. Her mother Anan Liu, 27 – known as Annie – was missing and so was her father Nai Yin Xue, 54. Then, a week later, his car was found outside the couple’s home – nearly 2,000 miles away in Auckland, New Zealand. Immediately, a foul smell was noticed in the car boot. When officers looked inside, they made a gruesome discovery… Annie’s body. She’d been strangled with a neck tie and her body was semi-naked. Nai Yin Xue was still nowhere to be found. A massive police search began. Meanwhile, the public’s heart went out to little Pumpkin. Donations and gifts poured in, and she was placed in foster care. By now, her father had fled to the US. His profile was shown on the TV show America’s Most Wanted, put in newspapers across the country.
Nai Yin Xue had both New Zealand and Chinese nationality, and worked as a newspaper publisher.
And, suddenly, his own face was in print – for all the wrong reasons.
Police were convinced he was guilty of killing Annie, especially because he’d abandoned his daughter.
As the hunt continued, Xue hid himself in the suburbs of Atlanta, among the Chinese community.
They believed Xue was homeless and frequenting Chinese restaurants and martial arts studios.
However, rather than protecting him, the Chinese community proved his downfall.
Local residents weren’t happy to have a man who might be a murderer in their midst.
Not many of them spoke English, but they recognised Xue from the publicity.
They took matters into their own hands, capturing Xue and hog-tying him until the police arrived.
Asked his identity by the police, Xue desperately rattled off a number of different names.
But in his pocket was a damning piece of evidence – his New Zealand driver’s licence bearing his real name.
Xue was taken to prison and prepared for extradition
The little girl was confused and scared
to New Zealand to face a judge and jury there.
The murder trial began in June 2009. The court heard that, while there was a big age difference between Nai Yin Xue and Annie, romance had blossomed naturally between them.
But the defence lawyers claimed their marriage was rocky, and Annie had forced Xue into the union to get permanent residency.
They said Annie had stopped sleeping with her husband and she’d began to stray.
Evidence was heard that Annie had told a friend she’d been with a younger man who made her feel as ‘sexually ferocious as a wolf’.
DNA from three men, including her husband Xue, was found in the underwear that Annie was wearing when she died.
To whom did the other two DNA profiles belong?
Were there other suspects who may have been overlooked by the police?
The defence asked if it was possible Annie had died after ‘sexual misadventure’ with these mystery men.
The jury watched the grainy CCTV of Xue leaving Pumpkin at the bottom of the escalator in the bustling Australian station.
Witnesses helped piece together the journey he made after Melbourne, from buying a ticket to Los Angeles ‘with some urgency’, to him telling a hotel porter he was relocating, asking where he could buy a car.
Nai Yin Xue’s defence team claimed he’d taken Pumpkin to the station and left her to spite his unfaithful wife.
They admitted that abandoning his daughter made him a ‘bad man’ but ‘that act doesn’t make him the killer’. However, prosecutors painted a picture of Xue as a man obsessed with martial arts, angry because Annie bore him a daughter. He was jealous of Annie, complaining even when friends greeted her with a kiss. But things had been even more sinister. A year before the murder, Xue had been convicted of assault after holding a knife to his wife’s stomach and threatening to stab her. Annie had taken him back. Was this a decision that cost his wife her life?
It was hard to deny that Nai Yin Xue wasn’t an irrationally violent, crazed man. But was he Annie’s killer? Now it was up to the jury to make a decision.
HAPPY FAMILY? Soon, the truth emerged He’d been convicted of assault before
Now turn over for the verdict…
It was nearly four weeks before the trial ended. Three and a half weeks of evidence were put before the jury.
But, after 24 hours of deliberating, they delivered their verdict. Nai Yin Xue was found guilty of murder.
‘I’m innocent!’ he cried as guards led him away.
And in 2012, Xue wrote a book called I Was Not The Murderer.