Cold Case Hero: Bringing Back Delayed Justice
29 years ago, retired Taiwanese Air Force Colonel Dang Shu-ming was robbed and killed in his own grocery store in Silicon Valley. According to the World Journal, Dang was a classmate of former Premier Tang Fei at the Air Force Academy.
Thieves in the US often target Asians, thinking they are an easy target because they usually don’t carry guns and won’t fight back, allowing themselves to be robbed. Dang’s grocery store didn’t have much cash, so the robbers took what they could, but no one knows why they shot him in the chest.
It was broad daylight at the time, and Dang’s wife was resting upstairs. He was the only one in the store at the time, and there were no witnesses. After Dang was killed, Mr. Sun, who used to run a travel agency in Taiwan and lived nearby, came to pay his respects and took over the grocery store. The yellowed newspaper from 30 years ago reporting the shooting is still on display in the store today. The grocery store has been around for 87 years and has always been a pillar of the community. Local residents call it “that little store.” During the pandemic, the grocery store survived with the help of community donations because residents didn’t want to see it go out of business due to the unsolved murder that occurred years ago.
During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, San Francisco’s electronic media SFGate reported on this corner grocery store and mentioned the unsolved murder.
Five months after the incident, the case was featured on America’s Most Wanted, a famous TV show in the US, asking for help in solving the case. Of the hundreds of leads, the only meaningful one was that someone saw a woman in her twenties driving away in a light blue 1970s station wagon. This weak and vague lead has been sitting there for almost thirty years.
Two days ago, the killer was finally caught in Oklahoma… This not only made the evening news in Silicon Valley but also became an important news story across the United States.
If Dang Shu-ming were still alive, he would be almost 90 years old now. Whether this is justice or not, we can only leave it to God to answer, as Mr. Sun, who took over the grocery store, said in an interview with reporters.
The police did not disclose how the case was solved, but it is certain that there was a great and persistent “cold case hero” behind it. His mission was to bring back delayed justice, no matter how long it took.
Retrieving Delayed Justice
In 1986, two teenage girls were shot and left to die in a remote mountain ditch. The case remained unsolved for 32 years until a new detective took over the cold case in 2018 and found a lead. With the help of DNA evidence collected at the scene, the killer was finally caught. For 32 years, the killer had thought he had gotten away with his crime, but justice was finally served.
I often ride my bike along that mountain road and pass by the approximate location where the girls were murdered. Every time I pass by, I think about the case and feel grateful for the detective who solved it. It’s hard not to be grateful once you know about it.
In California, where human rights are highly valued, there is no statute of limitations for murder. This means that many cold cases can be solved by a determined detective who refuses to give up and relies on DNA evidence that has been sitting in storage for decades. The DNA evidence can only be used if the killer is caught and his DNA is collected for comparison. Otherwise, it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack.
After all these years, no one knows if justice will ever be served for some cases. People may have forgotten or given up, and a detective could easily just close the case after 32 years. But the detective in this case didn’t use that as an excuse.
In 2004, a new caregiver in Silicon Valley had to report to work early in the morning. Her boyfriend couldn’t drive her, and she didn’t have a car. So, she decided to walk to work in the dark at 3 a.m. Her 16-year-old daughter was worried and insisted on accompanying her. Both mother and daughter were murdered on the way to work. This case remains unsolved and is still waiting for justice to be served.
But the most valuable thing is that the killer left DNA evidence at the scene, and the police are waiting for him to commit another crime.
I often wonder how angry and disappointed people must feel towards God when someone like this mother, who cared so much about her job and wanted to live, encounters such evil in the world, and the killer remains at large. So, retrieving delayed justice is not only for the victims but also for all those who believe in God. It’s a heavy responsibility for the detective to bear.
A few years ago, I saw a TV interview with detectives who worked on cold cases. They reiterated that they had not forgotten and had not given up. Perhaps 18 years is not enough time on the grand scale of justice. But looking at the two cases that were solved after 30 and 32 years, we still hold onto hope because of these unsung heroes.
Solving cold cases is probably the most difficult and least recognized job in the world. But once a case is solved, it becomes like the case of the retired Taiwanese military officer that all the Silicon Valley TV stations reported on. Everyone is grateful and begins to believe in God again, hoping for justice.
Cold case detectives are truly great. So many old grievances are waiting for them, and without their determination to seek justice for the victims and society, these cold cases could easily become dusty files.