Karen Wong’s boyfriend and brother decided to investigate after not hearing from her for a couple of days. On February 27th 1991, they found her body in her San Fransisco flat. More than two decades later in 2013, the San Fransisco Superior Court jury found Otis Hughes guilty of sexually assaulting and killing Wong.
Hughes was first charged with burglary in September 1991 and served a 17-year prison sentence. After his release in 2008, police linked a swab of Hughes’ DNA to evidence found at the murder scene. Hughes pleaded not guilty during a six-week trial, with a $2 million bail charge until his court date. Assistant District Attorney, David Merin, informed the jury that Wong’s murder fitted Hughes’ previous pattern of crime. Entering the building when a resident was home through an unlocked door, then arming himself was a kitchen knife. The jury convicted Hughes and sentenced him for life.
For nearly two decades, there were no leads in the case. It went cold for 17 years with most people pointing fingers at Wong’s then-boyfriend. Richmond district attorneys originally stated that evidence at the scene pointed to Wong’s boyfriend as the most likely suspect. There was no sign of a break-in at the crime scene, with all doors and windows locked. The defendants referred to Wong’s journal in court which spoke of the couple’s tumulus relationship, mentioning her boyfriend’s anger and abuse.
Before Wong was murdered, she was working on a documentary about mental illness called, ‘Dialogues With Mad Women’. She mentioned she spent most of her life “involved in radical politics.” The film debuted after Wong’s death and went on to win a national Emmy Award.