Unsolved murder of student Fiona Yu in Tempe, Arizona, examined on Crime Junkie

Fiona Yu smiling in a family pic
Fiona Yu’s murder has escaped justice for over 25 years. Pic credit: Tempe Police Dept

Crime Junkie is investigating the brutal murder of Fiona Yu, a business student at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, who was sexually assaulted and strangled to death in her apartment.

The 21-year-old Yu was one victim in a series of violent sexual attacks that occurred in the area at a similar time. The police have always suspected that these attacks were connected; however, Yu’s murder has remained unsolved for over a quarter of a century.

On August 4, 1997, Yu’s roommate returned home to find her lying on the floor. She’d been sexually assaulted, beaten, strangled, and left for dead. She succumbed to her injuries a short time later.

A neighbor had seen Yu cycling her bicycle around the residence at about 4:30 p.m. she was found by her roommate just 90 minutes later.

The cops believe the suspect was an opportunist who broke into Yu’s apartment to attack her.

The police collected a sample of the perpetrator’s DNA at the crime scene, but there was very little other evidence, and the case soon grew cold.

DNA evidence created a ‘snapshot’ of Fiona Yu killer

The Tempe PD breathed new life into the case in 2017 using a new technology known as Snapshot DNA Phenotyping. The suspect’s DNA was sent to the Parabon NanoLabs DNA laboratory in Virginia, which used the sample to create an image of the attacker.

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The laboratory used the DNA to predict how the attacker might look. They can predict the person’s ancestry, allowing them to guess the person’s hair and eye color, along with skin color, freckling, face shape, and other facial features.

The investigators now state they are looking for a Hispanic male with light brown skin, brown eyes, and black hair. They believe he was about 25 years old at the time of the attack, so would now be in his 50s.

In 2017, the cops released a composite sketch to show how the attacker may have looked at 25 and an age-progressed sketch showing how he might have looked at 45.

Composite sketch of Fiona Yu attack
A composite sketch of Fiona Yu’s attacker aged 25 and 24. Pic credit: Tempe Police Dept

The Tempe cops have stressed that the sketch is likely not a wholly accurate representation of the killer, but they hoped the images would refresh the case in people’s memories and may help to jog someone’s memory.

Tempe police still home to find who murdered Fiona Yu

Tempe police Det. Lilly Duran said at the time, “They [Parabon NanoLabs] have been very successful throughout the United States in building these composites based on the DNA that was collected at the scene. So we’re hoping that the public may recognize this person, and we will get some leads or information about this crime.”

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, Yu’s killer has still not been brought to justice.

MURDERED: Fiona Yu is available to download now on Crime Junkie.

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