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Chinese student charged with murder after horror on campus

A CHINESE student has been charged with murder in the United States after the horrific killing of a fellow student from Beijing.

Alone and in a new country, graduate student Yang Xin had reached out to other Chinese students at Virginia Tech when she arrived two weeks ago, trying to establish her life on campus.

But her new life was to end in tragedy.

She went to social events with international students, was in touch with the campus center that helps them adjust and appeared to be making friends. But one of those friendships may have led to her death.

Police say she was decapitated with a kitchen knife while having coffee with a Chinese doctoral student in a campus cafe on Wednesday.

The killing stunned a campus that still had vivid memories of mass slayings in April 2007, when a student gunman shot 32 people and then took his own life. The stabbing was the first slaying on campus since then.

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

It appeared Yang had met her accused attacker, 25-year-old Zhu Haiyang, from Ningbo in east China, only recently, said Kim Beisecker, director of the Cranwell International Center, which works with international students.

Zhu, a student in agricultural and applied economics, had been assisting Yang in adjusting to university life, something the 500 Chinese students often do for new members in their community, she said.

"She was a very sweet young woman," she said. "He was known as a polite young man." Though they didn't know each other well, school records listed Zhu as one of her emergency contacts. Beisecker said that may have been because Yang knew few people on campus.

What led to the attack is a mystery. About seven other people who were in the coffee shop told police the two hadn't been arguing before the attack. Beisecker said there hadn't been previous signs of trouble between them.

Police received two 911 calls shortly after 7pm on Wednesday, and were on the scene in a little more than a minute.

Zhu has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held at the Montgomery County Jail.


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