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

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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.

Xue in court: still main­tain­ing his in­no­cence

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