Man wanted in murder of Iowa State student arrested in China

Li Xiangnan is accused of killing his girlfriend, hiding her body and fleeing the country.

Memorial service for Tong Shao at Iowa State University.

A former University of Iowa student suspected of killing his girlfriend, hiding her body in the trunk of her car, and fleeing the country last year, has been arrested in southeastern China, where he will be prosecuted.

Chinese student faces prosecution in China for killing in Iowa

According to Iowa City police, 23-year-old Xiangnan Li surrendered to police in Wenzhou last month to face charges in the death of 20-year-old Tong Shao, an international student at Iowa State University.

Shao was reported missing before her body was found in the trunk of her car, parked at Li's apartment complex. An autopsy said she'd been asphyxiated, and authorities said she had been killed after a weekend with Li at a motel. By then, Li, who was a person of interest in the investigation, had returned to China.

At the scene where Tong Shao's body was found.

Iowa City police worked with Chinese officials to investigate and arrest Li. While Iowa authorities wanted Li to be returned to the U.S. for trial, because the United States and China don't have an extradition treaty, it was left to Chinese authorities to prosecute.

According to the news release, in early June local and federal authorities invited Criminal Investigation Bureau of China investigators to Iowa City to work in conjunction with the ICPD, the Ames Police Department and the Johnson County Attorney's Office.

The evidence gathered was submitted to the Criminal Investigation Bureau of China, and on June 19 Wenzhou prosecutors arrested Li for the crime of intentional homicide.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau of China alleges that on Sept. 7 -- 19 days before Shao was found in Iowa City -- Li killed Shao and fled to China. Under Chinese law, even if a citizen commits a crime abroad, the country's laws are applicable, according to the news release.

Lyness said local authorities' preference was to bring Li back to Iowa to be prosecuted, but without an extradition treaty, they had no choice in the matter.

"That's the only way we could have him prosecuted -- to have the Chinese do it themselves because they will not extradite anyone back from China," Lyness said.

Investigators believe Li may have killed Shao because she was attempting to break up with him.

Under Chinese law, Li could face a death sentence, life imprisonment or imprisonment over ten years.

More here: Former UI student arrested in China for homicide


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