A murder in Phuket: Chinese man allegedly kills wife for life insurance money

Society & Culture

A Chinese man who allegedly killed his wife when vacationing in Phuket, Thailand, so he could cash in on her life insurance policy worth more than 30 million yuan ($4.34 million) has been arrested by the local police. He will probably be extradited to China, Jīnyún Guānzhù 津云关注, a Tianjin-based newspaper, reports (in Chinese).

The crime took place in a luxury hotel in Phuket near the end of October. On October 27, Zhāng Yìfán 张轶凡, the husband, went on a vacation with his wife, Xiǎojié 小洁 (pseudonym), and their 20-month-old child despite opposition from Xiaojie’s parents, who thought the child was too young to travel abroad. Three days later, the husband’s parents made a call to the victim’s family, saying that Zhang told them Xiaojie accidentally drowned herself in a private swimming pool located in their hotel suite. The wife’s parents immediately called Zhang asking for more details regarding their daughter’s death. When they asked specific questions such as whether there were wounds on Xiaojie’s body, Zhang’s noticeable hesitation raised his in-laws’ suspicions. They also told the newspaper that their daughter could swim.

However, after a brief interview with the Thai police, Zhang managed to return to China on October 31 without being charged. After he came back, Xiaojie’s parents discovered some bruises on Zhang’s arms. While Zhang denied having a fight with Xiaojie, the wife’s parents grew even more suspicious.

On November 1, Zhang returned to Thailand with his in-laws and uncle. The uncle told reporters that he was “80 percent sure Xiaojie was murdered by Zhang,” and that during the trip, Zhang admitted to causing his wife injuries in a fight, although stressed that he had nothing to do with the death. But Zhang also said that he had purchased several life insurance plans for Xiaojie.

On the same day, Xiaojie’s family finally saw her body at a local hospital in Phuket. The corpse was covered in bruises and wounds, which led them to believe that Zhang abused Xiaojie before murdering her. They reported the case to the Thai police and Zhang was detained.

To find evidence to prove Zhang’s crime, Xiaojie’s parents searched the couple’s home and discovered that Zhang had bought 12 life insurance plans for his wife since September, valued at more than 30 million yuan, with Zhang himself the only beneficiary.

It also turned out that Zhang has been hiding a dark side of his life from others for quite a long time. He lied to Xiaojie’s family about his unemployment but successfully evaded suspicion by going out every day pretending he had a job. And while Xiojie’s family was incredibly generous in support of their marriage, Zhang, who was in charge of finances at home, landed himself in debt by buying virtual gifts on adult streaming platforms as well as luxury goods.

Zhang is currently in the hands of the Thai police. But Xiaojie’s family is hoping to bring Zhang back to China for justice because Thailand rarely employs the death penalty.