Crime Waves: The murder of a foreigner in Taipei, Taiwan


Update below: the capture of the second murderer.

Second update: Police questioning of Mayer has begun.

The murder of Ramgahan Sanjay Ryan on August 22 in Taipei, Taiwan, has made international headlines. (Today’s news about a 55 year old woman’s attempt to stab other passengers on a subway likely won’t, nor will the story of the pervert who placed a camera in a Starbuck’s toilet.) As mentioned in my post of yesterday, I’m not involved with the crime and don’t know the participants, but I am within arm’s reach of them. I have friends (and some now ex-friends) who know or have met one or all three.

Below are a collection of local news stories. I highlighted sections to explain certain facts, or parts which have been the basis of rumours (but won’t state any myself). Names with Chinese characters are removed because they are not being displayed properly.  I have chosen not to allow reader comments to avoid speculation, and offered only one opinion (about how Taiwan courts would handle those accused of possession) and the eye roll.

For the most part, Taiwan is a safe place to live.  My biggest daily concern is that defensive driving is a foreign concept. But for myself and many I know, the murder is the only topic of conversation. It angers me because it gives Taiwanese people a bad impression of foreigners at a time when we need to support Taiwan’s battle to maintain its independence. It’s not just so I can live more comfortably.


 

August 22 (15:58): Headless, limbless body of Canadian male English teacher found in New Taipei

Taiwan has ten metre high embankments along its riverbanks, with watertight gates that can be closed when there are floods and typhoons. The parkland is between the embankments and the water, the embankments between the park and residential areas. The walls prevent all but the tallest apartment buildings nearby from seeing into the parks. The murder was perpetrated after midnight, and lighting in the park is limited to poles every 100-200 metres.

 


 

August 24 (14:33): Update: Six foreign suspects in murder of Canadian English teacher identified, may have fled Taiwan

From the item:

Update: Police have now identified six suspects, all foreigners, who may be involved in the brutal murder of a Canadian English teacher. Apple Daily reports that the six foreign suspects include a Russian man and an American teacher.

According to TVBS, the Russian man and American teacher had a history of drug offenses and had both worked as English teachers at cram schools. Police are also searching for four of their friends.

In 2017 the Taiwan government enacted stronger restrictions for those entering the country (background checks from the entrant’s own government).  But the government does not yet require fingerprinting of foreigners with residency visas, unlike South Korea, Japan and other countries.

Also from the item:

Police are having a difficult time seeing what transpired clearly as there are only two surveillance cameras in the area around the embankment below the Zhongzhen Bridge and the figures are far away and their images are blurry.

In April 2018, three Spanish men vandalized the Kaohsiung subway system. As part of their escape plan, they walked along parkland in Kaohsiung to intentionally avoid surveillance cameras. They assumed that by entering the park, walking and exiting several kilometres away that their whereabouts could not be traced.

 


 

August 25 (19:41): U.S. and Taiwan man suspects in murder of Canadian teacher, third man still on the run

From the item:

On Saturday morning, police interviewed a 30-year-old African-American man who had been revealed by Ryan’s smartphone data as one of his angry customers, the Apple Daily reported.

In addition, his smartphone placed him near the river in Yonghe, the district where Ryan lived and where he was killed, at the time of the events, late on August 21. He was unable to provide a coherent explanation for his activities and whereabouts around that time, the Apple Daily reported.

Taiwan requires government issued ID when purchasing a SIM card (Taiwan identification for citizens, passport or Alien Registration Card for foreigners). Prepaid numbers don’t exist here.  The only way to get an untraceable number would be to steal someone’s phone, and the victim of theft would likely report it immediately unless they were incapacitated (e.g. kidnapping).

 


 

August 25 (13:54): Murderer of Canadian teacher suspected he was a police informant: reports

Police reportedly found records of heated conversations between Ryan and his drugs clients in which they accused him of being a police informant. After he was caught in May, each time his clients bought drugs from him, they would soon receive a visit from the police, the Apple Daily reported.

The African suspect was reportedly one of the individuals who had argued with Ryan. In addition, his smartphone placed him in Yonghe, the district where Ryan lived and where he was killed, at the time of the events, late on August 21.

[…]

The Canadian lost his wife in a swimming accident off Yilan County last year. According to reports in the Canadian media, he was preparing to end his more than 10 years in Taiwan and return to Canada, where he owned a house in the province of Ontario.

 


August 27 (15:49): Taiwanese-Canadian suspect witnessed grisly murder of Canadian teacher, ‘watched killer’s backs’

Wu’s lawyer claims his client was not at the scene of the murder and he only admits to purchasing the machetes and did not approve of the murder.

 


August 27 (17:19): 2 suspects in murder of Canadian served in Israeli IDF, US Marines, before teaching English in Taiwan

According to the account, in 2017 [Mayer] started his tattoo parlor called DC Tattoos, which is located on No. 6 Guanqian Road in Taipei’s Zhongzheng District.

[…]

On July 13, a little over a month before Bent allegedly murdered Ryan, he posted the following ominous photo on this Instagram page of target practice with clusters of lethal hits. On the post he wrote, “It is the hits that count.”

Meanwhile, Mayer also posted a number of disturbing images of tattoo sketches on his DC Tattoos Facebook page.

These are the photos referred to, all posted within recent weeks.

From the American’s instagram page:

July 13: “It is the hits that count”

July 2: “handtohand”

From the Israeli’s tattoo parlour page on facebook:

August 6: “What goes around comes around”

July 26: An unnamed plant/pottery sketch

July 4: “I’m contemplating getting my drawing tattooed on my neck….”

June 24: “design of a knife puncturing a heart with flames and a banner”

 


 

August 25 (23:48): African-American man arrested for murder of Canadian English teacher, Taiwanese accomplice nabbed

Knowing that Ryan routinely walked his dog “Lulu” along the riverside park near Zhongzheng Bridge in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District, Bent and Mayer allegedly rode bicycles to the area and lay in wait for him. The men first pounced on Ryan and tied him down with a metal chain, before hacking him with the machetes, according to the Apple Daily.

 


 

August 27 (11:40): Israeli-American man suspected of grisly murder of Canadian on the run in the Philippines

The second suspect in the gruesome murder of a Canadian English teacher-turned drug dealer has been identified by police as a 37-year-old Israeli-American tattoo artist named Oren Shlomo Mayer, who goes by the handle “Oz Diamond”. After allegedly joining [30-year-old] African-American male Ewart Odane Bent in ambushing, murdering and dismembering 43-year-old Canadian English teacher Ramgahan Sanjay Ryan with machetes on Aug. 21, Mayer is believed to have fled the country on Aug. 23 for the Philippines, reports TVBS.

Police said that Mayer and Bent dismembered Ryan at about 1 a.m. on Aug. 22, after which the two “happily” went to the supermarket nearby to buy beers to take back to Mayer’s residence to celebrate, according an Apple Daily report. However, as news started to break about the murder, Mayer began worrying about being caught and feared that Bent’s phone logs would reveal their roles in the heinous crime.

[…]

Police said that based on surveillance footage, they have determined that Mayer arrived at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at around midnight on Aug. 23 disguised as a backpacker wearing a red short-sleeve shirt and shorts and carrying a backpack, with no luggage checked. In the airport surveillance camera footage, Mayer can be seen joking with a foreign woman who was waiting in line, but she is not believed to be involved with the case.

[…]

Taiwan and the Philippines have an extradition agreement and most recently, on May 23, Taiwanese police arrested a Filipino fugitive in May and sent him to the Philippines on July 27.

Mayer was in the Israeli military.  Bent was in the US marines.


 

August 28 (12:31): Chilling footage shows suspects ‘relaxed’ after grisly murder of Canadian English teacher in New Taipei

Based on analysis of surveillance camera footage, police have determined that the two suspects left Mayer’s rental apartment on Emei street in Taipei’s Wanhua District on the evening of Aug. 21, when the murder was believed to have occurred. The men first picked up rented bicycles from nearby YouBike station and rode them to Zhongzheng Riverside Park where they allegedly laid an ambush for Ryan and brutally hacked him to death with machetes.

[…]

Mayer can be seen wearing a spotless, white wife-beater shirt and both men are carrying backpacks, leading police to suspect that they were carrying their blood-soaked clothes inside the bags. 

YouBike is a bicycle rental system with stations around Taipei and New Taipei City metro area. In order to use one, a person must use a credit card or an EasyCard (YoyoCard as the Taiwanese call it).  EasyCards are used mostly for buses, taxis and the subway. They can be purchased without ID, and topped up with cash anonymously.

However, specially activation is required for use of an EasyCard with the YouBike system, requiring valid government ID (the same as listed above for SIM cards) and the user’s phone number. Anytime someone rents a YouBike, their name, phone number, time of use and location will be recorded in the system.

I have an activated EasyCard and use the YouBikes.  All my use of local transit is tracked.

 


 

August 29 (16:41): Breaking News: Israeli-American murder suspect escapes after being surrounded by Philippine police

Reports are surfacing that Philippine police pinpointed the location of a man suspected of taking part in the savage murder and dismemberment of a Canadian English teacher last week, however he apparently managed to evade capture.

Mayer had evaded police only temporarily.  Presumably, the government will ask domestic and foreign banks to cut off his cards and access to cash, and monitor ATM cameras if he attempts to obtain more money.  I have been to several islands in the Philippines, and ATMs have cameras as far back as my first trip in 2002.  He is on the island of Cebu, which is less than 4500km², with limited space to run and limited funds on his person.

There is an Israeli consulate office in Cebu city.  He may attempt to escape capture by entering there.

 


 

August 30 (17:25): Slain Canadian English teacher used pet dog ‘Lulu’ as a drug mule

Ramgahan eventually amassed a collection of five to six scooters, which instead of riding, he reportedly used them to stash the illegal drugs he was selling, rather than store them in his home. Because the scooters were purchased under the names of his Taiwanese friends, police would have a harder time tracing the drugs to him if they discovered the stashes.

Taiwan’s drug laws are very restrictive. Possession can lead to long prison sentences. I won’t speculate how an innocent person would be treated by the courts (one who unknowingly possessed drugs) but I highly doubt a drug dealer would fall on his sword and take responsibility so others could go free.

 


 

September 2 (23:08): Slain Canadian English teacher reportedly had ‘marijuana farm’ in Taiwan

[A]fter Ramgahan had been arrested twice earlier this year on drug charges, but had been released, and in recent weeks, Bent and Mayer had both also been arrested by police for drug charges, they strongly suspected that Ramgahan had become a drug informant. Though police originally thought this, along with an ongoing feud, were their primary motives to plot his murder, [police] now suspect the two also had designs on gaining control of [Ramgahan’s] lucrative drug-dealing network and vast marijuana growing operation.

 


 

September 6 (11:23): Breaking News: Philippine police nab Israeli-American suspect in Canadian English teacher murder

Philippine police last night (Sept. 5) captured the Israeli-American suspect who had been on the run since being implicated in the grisly murder and dismemberment of a Canadian English teacher in New Taipei’s Yonghe District.

Last night at 11:35 p.m., Philippine police intelligence officers and agents from the Bureau of Immigration Fugitive Search Unit (BI FSU) raided an apartment in Cainta, Rizal Province where a 37-year-old Israeli-American tattoo artist named Oren Shlomo Mayer, who goes by the handle “Oz Diamond,” was staying and successfully arrested him, reported CNA. Cainta is about 18 kilometers east of the Philippine capital of Manila.

[…]

Taiwan and the Philippines have an extradition agreement and most recently, on May 23, Taiwanese police arrested Filipino fugitive and former Ozamiz City Councilor Ricardo Parojinog and sent him to the Philippines on July 27.

Mayer flew from Taiwan to Cebu in the Philippines, an island hundreds of kilometres from Luzon, the island where he was captured. Domestic air carriers in the Philippines require passports or other identification for air travel, but the Superferry system does not. I have travelled on it before. It is likely how he got from Cebu to Luzon.

 


 

September 16 (12:56): Murder suspect’s family asks Israeli govt. to block his extradition from Philippines to Taiwan

The parents of murder-suspect Oren Schlomo Mayer have reportedly filed an emergency petition with the Israeli High Court of Justice asking for help from the government to block the extradition of Mayer from the Philippines back to Taiwan.

Submitted on Friday, Sept. 14 the petition alleges that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has been ignoring the case of Mayer. The family has asked the government to intervene, hoping the Philippines will extradite him to Israel rather than Taiwan, where it is possible Mayer will face the death penalty if convicted.

The parents of murder-suspect Oren Schlomo Mayer have reportedly filed an emergency petition with the Israeli High Court of Justice asking for help from the government to block the extradition of Mayer from the Philippines back to Taiwan.

Submitted on Friday, Sept. 14 the petition alleges that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has been ignoring the case of Mayer. The family has asked the government to intervene, hoping the Philippines will extradite him to Israel rather than Taiwan, where it is possible Mayer will face the death penalty if convicted.

It’s doubtful that any foreign government will help him, even if it is Israel.

 


 

September 18 (19:49): Israeli-American murder suspect denies charges, clashes with AIT: reports

During five hours of questioning by the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), Israeli-American tattoo artist Oren Shlomo Mayer denied involvement in the murder of a Canadian teacher and clashed with an official from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), reports said Tuesday.

[…]

The man assigned to be his attorney is known for defending prominent murderers, including the student Cheng Chieh, who was executed for stabbing four people to death on a Mass Rapid Transit train.

Cheng’s trial was a slam dunk, with video evidence, forensic evidence and multiple eye witnesses. He was executed barely a year after conviction, by firing squad.

Mayer, Bent and Wu may have avoided video cameras, but the Taiwan police caught or identified them within hours, and have already presented substantial evidence.

According to the Apple Daily, Mayer was less than pleased to see an official from AIT show up to express concern for his case. The Israeli-American blamed the United States authorities for the canceling of his passport and gave the AIT representative the finger while shouting expletives three times, the paper reported.

Taiwan does not have full diplomatic with many countries. The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is the de facto US consulate or embassy, performing many of the same functions.

 


I will try to add news stories as they appear.

 

 

 

 

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