- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2009

BLACKSBURG, Va. | A graduate student from China was decapitated with a kitchen knife in a campus cafe at Virginia Tech by another graduate student who knew her, police said Thursday.

Xin Yang, 22, was killed Wednesday night after arriving at the campus from Beijing on Jan. 8 to begin studying accounting, Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said.

The suspect, Haiyang Zhu, 25, of Ningbo, China, knew the victim, but no motive for the slaying has been determined, Chief Flinchum said. School records showed that Mr. Haiyang was listed as one of Miss Xin’s emergency contacts.

Mr. Haiyang was charged with first-degree murder and was being held without bail at the Montgomery County Jail. His attorney, Stephanie Cox, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Mr. Haiyang and Miss Xin had been having coffee in a cafe in the Graduate Life Center, where Miss Xin was living. About seven other people who were in the coffee shop told police that the two hadn’t been arguing before the attack.

Police received two 911 calls shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday, Chief Flinchum said, and were on the scene in a little more than a minute to take Mr. Haiyang into custody.

Chief Flinchum said Mr. Haiyang was not known to the campus police or to the university team that deals with mentally ill students.

University officials said Mr. Haiyang arrived on campus last fall and was a doctoral student in agricultural and applied economics.

The stabbing was the first killing on the campus since April 16, 2007, when a student gunman killed 32 students and faculty and then took his own life.

“An act of violence like this brings back memories of April 16,” university President Charles W. Steger said. “I have no doubt that many of us feel especially distraught.”

University spokesman Larry Hincker said a campus alert system, put in place after the mass shootings by Seung-hui Cho in 2007, sent out messages to 30,000 subscribers by e-mail, text messages and telephone voice mails Wednesday night.

Because a suspect was in custody, the messages were sent out as notifications rather than as emergency alerts, he said.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine offered condolences to the campus.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of Xin Yang today - and with the broader Virginia Tech community,” he said.

“The tragic attack on campus this week has no doubt revived terrible memories for countless members of the Hokie family.”

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