||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2014)|
Mug shot of Ng taken in 1982
December 24, 1960 |
Conspiracy to commit murder
Span of killings
|State(s)||Calaveras County, California|
|July 6, 1985|
Charles Chi-Tat Ng (Chinese: 吳志達/吴志达 (Cantonese pronunciation: [ŋ̩̏ tsītàt̚]); Pinyin: Wú Zhìdá; born December 24, 1960) is a Hong Kong-American serial killer. He is believed to have raped, tortured and murdered between 11 and 25 victims with his accomplice Leonard Lake at Lake's cabin in Calaveras County, California, in the Sierra Nevada foothills 150 miles east of San Francisco.
Ng was born in Hong Kong, the son of a wealthy Chinese executive and his wife. As a child, Ng was harshly disciplined and abused by his father. As a teenager, Ng was described as a troubled loner and was expelled from several schools. When he was arrested for shoplifting at age 15, his father sent him to Bentham Grammar boarding school in Lancashire, England. Not long after arriving, Ng was expelled for stealing from other students and returned to Hong Kong.
Ng moved to the United States, where he entered Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. He dropped out after one semester. It was at this time that he first met Leonard Lake. Soon after, he was involved in a hit-and-run accident, and to avoid prosecution he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
U.S. Marine Corps
Although not a United States citizen, Ng became a Marine with the help, he said, of a recruiting sergeant, and false documents attesting to his birth in Bloomington, Indiana. After less than a year of service he was arrested by military police for the theft of heavy weaponry and machine guns from MCAS Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii. He was further charged with escape from confinement and attempted desertion, though the desertion charge was dropped. Ng was convicted on the remaining charges and sentenced to 14 years, but less than two years later his sentence was commuted and he was dishonorably discharged.
After his release Ng immediately contacted Lake, who was renting a remote cabin near Wilseyville, California, and invited Ng to join him. Lake had custom-built a dungeon next to the cabin. It is presumed[by whom?] that by then Lake had already murdered his brother Donald and his friend and best man, Charles Gunnar, in order to steal their money, and in Gunnar's case, his identity. Over the next year Lake and Ng indulged themselves in an orgy of rape, torture, and killing. Their victims included their rural neighbors Lonnie Bond, his girlfriend Brenda O'Connor, and their infant son, Lonnie Jr. Another young family, Harvey and Deborah Dubs and their young son, Sean, were also victims. In both cases the two men quickly killed the men and babies, keeping the women alive for repeated abuse. They filmed themselves raping and torturing their victims before murdering them. Other victims included workmates of Ng's, relatives and friends who came looking for Bond and O'Connor, and two gay men. In all, the two are believed to have murdered between 11 and 25 victims at the cabin.
Their murderous career may have gone on longer if it had not been for Ng's addiction to stealing. On June 2, 1985, he was caught shoplifting a vise from a San Francisco hardware store, and fled the scene. Lake arrived later to try to pay for the vise, but by then police were there. Officer Daniel Wright noted that Lake's car's license plates were registered to another vehicle, and that Lake's ID, in the name of Robin Stapley (a San Diego man who had been reported missing by his family several weeks earlier), was suspicious. When Wright found a gun with a silencer in the trunk of the car he arrested Lake. In custody, Lake swallowed cyanide pills that he had sewn into his clothes and died four days later, after revealing his and Ng's true identities.
Further investigation led police to the cabin. Ng was nowhere to be found, but they did find Robin Stapley's truck and Lonnie Bond's car, and behind the cabin, the dungeon. Officers noticed a foot poking through the earth and proceeded to unearth roughly 40 pounds of burned and smashed human bone fragments, relating to at least a dozen bodies. Police also found a hand-drawn "treasure map" that led them to two buried five-gallon buckets: One contained envelopes with names and victims' IDs, suggesting that the total body count might be as high as 25. In the other bucket were Lake's handwritten journals for the years 1983 and 1984, and two videotapes documenting the torture of two of their victims. In one of the tapes, Ng is seen telling victim Brenda O'Connor: "you can cry and stuff, like the rest of them, but it won't do any good. We are pretty—ha, ha—cold-hearted, so to speak."
A month later, Ng was arrested in Calgary, Alberta by the Calgary Police Service after he shot security guard Sean Doyle in the hand while resisting arrest for shoplifting. He was charged and subsequently convicted of shoplifting, felonious assault, and possession of a concealed firearm, and sentenced to four and half years in a Canadian prison.
During his Canadian incarceration, Ng fought a protracted legal battle against extradition to the United States, on the grounds that Canada—which has no death penalty—would be violating his human rights by permitting him to stand trial in California for capital murder. It was not until 1991 that he lost this battle and was extradited.
In 1998 Ng stood trial on twelve counts of first degree murder. After conviction in 1999 of eleven homicides—six men, three women, and two male infants—he was sentenced to death. Ng's prosecution cost California approximately $20 million, at the time the most expensive trial in the state's history. He currently awaits execution on San Quentin State Prison's death row.
- Welborn, Larry (2011-02-25). "O.C. death row: 11 murders, maybe more". The Register. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- "Ngs trail went from California to Calgary and back again". The Lethbridge Herald (Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada: Heritage Archives). 1998-11-12. p. A9. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- "Reference Re Ng Extradition". umontreal.ca. 1991-09-26. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
- "Charles Chi-tat Ng – Extradited From Canada to Face Death Penalty in California". Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty. 2005-04-25. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- Greig, Charlotte (2005). Evil Serial Killers: In the Minds of Monsters. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 91. ISBN 0760775664.
- United States vs Charles Ng.
- Greig, Charlotte (2005). Evil Serial Killers: In the Minds of Monsters. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 92. ISBN 0760775664.
- World: Americas Serial killer sentenced to die, BBC, Thursday, July 1, 1999.
- Greig, Charlotte (2005). Evil Serial Killers: In the Minds of Monsters. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 93. ISBN 0760775664.
- Greig, Charlotte (2005). Evil Serial Killers: In the Minds of Monsters. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 94. ISBN 0760775664.
- "Leonard Lake and Charles Ng". Frances Farmer's Revenge. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
- Owens, Gregg (2001). No Kill, No Thrill: The Shocking True Story of Charles Ng - One of North America's Most Horrific Serial Killers. Red Deer Press. ISBN 978-0889952096.
- Bellamy, Patrick. "Charles Ng: Cheating Death". truTV Crime Library. Crime Library's detailed accounts of Charles Ng and Leonard Lake's killing spree
- Chitat Ng v. Canada, Communication No. 469/1991, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/49/D/469/1991 (1994).