WASHINGTON (AP) – The brother of an attorney found dead in 1999 says District of Columbia police plan to reclassify her death as a homicide and have identified two likely suspects.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is scheduled Friday to discuss the case of Joyce Chiang, an attorney for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service who disappeared in January 1999. Her badly decomposed body was found that April on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Va. The medical examiner was unable to determine the cause of death.
Police initially believed Chiang’s death was a suicide, a ruling that angered family members who suspected foul play.
Roger Chiang said Thursday that police will announce that the death was a homicide that occurred during a robbery attempt and abduction in Washington. He said police believe his sister was abducted by two men who had conducted similar robbery attempts in the area and taken to the Anacostia section of the city, where she escaped from them. As she fled, she was either pushed or fell into the river and died, Chiang said.
It was not clear what charges if any will ultimately be filed.
He said one of the two suspects identified by police is imprisoned for life in Maryland, while the other was deported to South America, and may not be extraditable.
Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, declined to comment, saying the investigation was continuing. Police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump also declined to comment ahead of the news conference.
Roger Chiang credited Lanier and cold-case prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington with taking a fresh approach and investigating the case properly.
He was caught off guard a year ago when police called him out of the blue and told him they were close to solving his sister’s case.
“We had been saddled with this for 10 years,” Roger Chiang said in a phone interview. “We had given up on finding out the truth. We thought we might find out the truth in the next lifetime.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)