A 26-year-old Chinese graduate student at the University of Utah has been arrested for allegedly killing his 19-year-old girlfriend by injecting her with a lethal dose of heroin as part of a failed “suicide pact,” according to Salt Lake City. City police.
Haoyu Wang sent an email to a school employee explaining that he and his girlfriend Zhifang Dong ordered heroin and fentanyl from the dark web and planned to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by The Washington Post.
Wang reportedly told an employee that he had already given Dong a lethal dose of heroin to “alleviate her suffering.”
Police said in a press release that they pinged Dong’s cell phone and traced the couple to a Quality Inn about 10 minutes west of the Salt Lake City campus.
Officers and university administration conducted a welfare check in the room Wang rented, where paramedics found Dong’s lifeless body, police said. Meanwhile, Wang was alive and did not need treatment.
Haoyu Wang, 26, a Chinese graduate student at the University of Utah, allegedly injected his 19-year-old girlfriend, Zhifang Dong, with a lethal dose of heroin at the Quality Inn in Salt Lake City on Friday.
Wang told police that the couple had entered into a “suicide pact” and planned to overdose on drugs together. Police found the two at an off-campus motel where Dong was declared dead and Wang was arrested.
He was arrested at the scene and charged with “deliberate and willful” murder. Because the two were in a relationship, the case is being investigated as a “domestic violence-related homicide,” police said.
Wang told officers that he and Dong, who was an undergraduate student at the university, snorted heroin at the motel with the intention of dying together, the affidavit said.
Don began to vomit, stopped responding and began to breathe heavily. In response, the affidavit states, Wang injected her with a lethal dose of the drug to “relieve her suffering” and watched her die.
He then injected himself with heroin and remained in the room until the police arrived at the motel. It is not clear how much heroin Wang allegedly took, or if it was the same dose he gave his girlfriend.
Wang, a Chinese national, does not have a lawyer listed in public court records. Police said Wang lived with Dong, who the university identified as an international undergraduate student from Anyang in China’s Henan province.
Wang committed an act of violence against his girlfriend on at least one occasion, according to state court records. He was charged with assault last month for punching Dong during an argument at another hotel and leaving her with a wound that paramedics described as a “goose egg,” according to a sworn statement seen by the Washington Post.
Wang was charged with “deliberate and willful” murder. Because the two were in a relationship, the case is being investigated as a “domestic violence-related homicide,” police said. Wang and Dong were international students at the University of Utah.
Wang was charged with assault last month for allegedly hitting Dong during an argument and leaving her with a scar that paramedics called a “goose egg.”
Wang was released from jail and found to be “at low risk of committing a violent crime” and his next appearance is scheduled for this Wednesday, according to state court records.
University of Utah officials alerted students to the alleged killing on Friday, releasing a statement saying it involved “a foreign undergraduate student” but “there was no ongoing threat to the campus.”
“We know this news is difficult to process and will affect members of our campus community, especially those who have experienced or are close to domestic violence,” the statement said, before offering student resources, including a school counseling center and Utah Domestic Violence Center. Coalition at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). Additional campus resources and information are available at SafeU.utah.edu, the university said.
“The death of any young person entering adulthood is devastating. And, unfortunately, domestic violence is more common than many of us think, even among college students. On behalf of the university, we express our sincere grief and sympathy to the family, friends and classmates of the victim at this incredibly difficult time,” the statement said.
After Dong’s identity was made public, university president Taylor Randall sent a statement to the students to “express our deepest sympathy to Rifan’s family, friends and loved ones.”
“Along with many other students from her home country, Zhifan was a member of one of the Utah Global programs, which helps freshmen immerse themselves in the academic and cultural life of the university. We are supporting all of our international students during this difficult time, especially her Utah Global peers,” he wrote.
Randall noted that the investigation is ongoing and thanked the Salt Lake City Police Department and the University Police “for their hard work and professionalism in this case.”
Dong’s death was the seventh reported murder by a student or university employee since 2016, four of which were related to domestic violence.
Dong’s death was the seventh recorded killing of a university student or employee since 2016. Aaron Lowe, 21, also a student at the University of Utah, was gunned down at a house party in Salt Lake City in September.
Sudanese citizen Buk Mavut Buk was arrested in connection with his death. Above, Lowe’s teammates attended a candlelight vigil in his honor on campus.
Most recently, 21-year-old U of U footballer Aaron Lowe was shot and killed at a house party in Sugarland in September 2021. Police have arrested 22-year-old Sudanese Buk Mavut Buk and charged him with murder in connection with the shooting. Said was called in when the intruders were asked to leave the party.
Lowe’s death comes less than a year after teammate Ty Jordan, 19, died from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound in December 2020.
Nearly two years earlier, Mackenzie Luke, a 23-year-old university student majoring in kinesiology, was murdered by a man she met on a dating app in June 2019, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Medical resident Sarah Hawley was shot and killed by her boyfriend at their home in January 2019.
Student-athlete Lauren McCluskey was gunned down outside a university dorm in October 2018 by a man she dated for a short time.
Chenwei Guo, 23, a computer scientist, also from China, was killed in a carjacking in October 2017. Austin Bouten, 24, has since pleaded guilty to shooting and killing Guo’s car five times. Buten agreed to be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Finally, employee Katherine Peralta was killed in the campus parking lot by her husband in December 2016 after she told him she planned to file for divorce.