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Mug shot of Ng taken in 1982
|Born||Charles Chi-Tat Ng
December 24, 1960
|Nationality||Hong Kong (British National Overseas)|
Conspiracy to commit murder
Span of killings
|State(s)||Calaveras County, California|
|July 6, 1985|
Charles Chi-Tat Ng (simplified Chinese: 吴志达; traditional Chinese: 吳志達; pinyin: Wú Zhìdá (Cantonese pronunciation: [ŋ̩̏ tsītàt̚]); born December 24, 1960 in Hong Kong) is a 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.
After his arrest and imprisonment in Canada on robbery and weapons charges, followed by a lengthy dispute between Canada and the United States, Ng was extradited to California, trialed, and convicted of 11 murders. He is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
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. After his arrest for shoplifting at age 15, he went, at his father's insistence, to Bentham Grammar boarding school in North Yorkshire, England. Not long after arriving, Ng was expelled for stealing from other students and returned to Hong Kong.
Ng moved to the United States on a student visa in 1978, and studied biology at the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California. He dropped out after one semester. At that time, he met Leonard Lake. Soon after, he was involved in a hit-and-run accident, and to avoid prosecution he enlisted in the United States 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. Rather than face a court-martial, Ng fled Hawaii and made his way back to Northern California, where he reunited with Lake. In 1982, federal authorities raided their mobile home and seized a large stash of weapons and explosives. Lake jumped bail and became a fugitive. Ng was court-martialed, convicted on the theft and desertion 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, in Calaveras County east of San Francisco, and invited Ng to join him. Lake had custom-built a dungeon next to the cabin. By then, Lake may have already murdered his brother Donald and his friend and best man, Charles Gunnar, in order to steal their money and Gunnar's identity. Over the next year, Lake and Ng indulged in an orgy of rape, torture, and murder. Their victims included their neighbor Lonnie Bond, his girlfriend Brenda O'Connor, their infant son Lonnie, Jr., and Harvey and Deborah Dubs and their young son Sean. The two men apparently killed the men and babies immediately, and kept the women alive for repeated abuse. They filmed themselves raping and torturing their female 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 rampage might have gone on longer if not 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 later drove to the store and attempted to pay for the vise, but by then police had arrived. Officer Daniel Wright discovered that the license plates on Lake's car were registered to another vehicle, and that Lake was carrying identification in the name of Robin Stapley, a San Diego man reported missing by his family several weeks earlier. Wright then searched Lake's vehicle, found a gun equipped with a silencer in the trunk, and arrested Lake. In custody, Lake confessed his and Ng's true identities, then swallowed cyanide pills that he had sewn into his clothes; he died four days later.
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, corresponding to a minimum of 11 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."
Ng, meanwhile, had fled to Canada, and on July 6, 1985 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 a half years in prison. Following the completion of his sentence, he remained incarcerated pending extradition to the United States.
Ng fought a protracted legal battle against extradition on the grounds that Canada—which has no death penalty—would be violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by permitting him to stand trial in California for capital murder. A habeas corpus petition and an appeal to the Alberta Court of Appeal were both denied. In 1991, the Canadian Supreme Court also ruled against him, and he was extradited to California later that year.
In Calaveras County, Ng was indicted on 12 counts of first-degree murder. After a protracted series of pretrial motions, including a request for change of venue, his trial finally began in October 1998, six years after his extradition. Ng continually maintained his innocence, testifying that Lake committed all of the murders, unassisted.
In February 1999, he was convicted of 11 of the 12 homicides—six men, three women, and two male infants; jurors deadlocked on the twelfth charge—and sentenced to death. Ng's prosecution cost the State of California approximately $20 million, at the time the most expensive trial in the state's history. He currently remains on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
- 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.
- "As Jury Meets to Decide His Fate, Ng Expects Death - latimes". articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
- Greig, Charlotte (2005). Evil Serial Killers: In the Minds of Monsters. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 91. ISBN 0760775664.
- United States vs Charles Ng.
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- World: Americas Serial killer sentenced to die, BBC, Thursday, July 1, 1999.
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- Greig, Charlotte (2005). Evil Serial Killers: In the Minds of Monsters. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 94. ISBN 0760775664.
- Hickey, E.W. (2003). Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime. SAGE Publications. p. 277. ISBN 9780761924371. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
- "Murder Suspect's Bid to Stay in Canada Tests Pact - NYTimes.com". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
- "Charles Ng Has a Date With a Needle - SFGate". sfgate.com. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
- "Leonard Lake and Charles Ng". Frances Farmer's Revenge. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011. 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[dead link]
- Chitat Ng v. Canada, Communication No. 469/1991, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/49/D/469/1991 (1994).