12-Year-Old Cold Case Officially Classified as Homicide

D.C. police have officially classified the death of Joyce Chiang, an Immigration and Naturalization Service lawyer, as a homicide. However, at a press conference announcing the development today, police said they did not have enough evidence to prosecute anyone in the case, and D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the case was considered closed.

Chiang, who was 28 years old when she died, went missing in January of 1999. Her body was found on the banks of the Potomac River several months later. Police initially believed her death was a suicide.

The Associated Press via the Washington Post reported that a government official said police had identified two suspects in the case who had already been convicted for several robberies and abductions the year of Chiang’s death. One is serving a life sentence in Maryland and the other was deported to Guyana.

Lanier declined to name any suspects at the press conference.

According to the Associated Press, Roger Chiang, Joyce’s brother, spoke at the press conference about his sister’s case:

[Chiang] thanked D.C. police for aggressively investigating the case the past few years and especially for classifying the death as a homicide. Roger Chiang said he and other family members were outraged in 2001 when then-Assistant Police Chief Terry Gainer said he believed Joyce Chiang had committed suicide.

Police work that led the classification of his sister’s death as a homicide “restored her honor,” Roger Chiang said.

John Walsh, the host of “America’s Most Wanted,” also spoke about the case:

“No one who knew Joyce Chiang believed she committed suicide,” said John Walsh, who featured Joyce Chiang’s case several times on his “America’s Most Wanted” television program and eventually employed Roger Chiang as a production manager on the show. “I didn’t believe it. The Chiang family didn’t believe it.”

Walsh, speaking at Friday’s press conference, credited D.C.’s cold case squad with cracking more than 100 cases in the last three years.

“It is hugely important that police aggressively open cold cases, that they listen to the families,” Walsh said.

So far, it appears only WTOP has also reported on today’s press conference, although several outlets covered the story yesterday.

UPDATE: NBC Washington, DCist and Fox 5 also have the story.

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