Who killed Grace Chen? Friends, family still search for answers four years later

DanDan Zhou remembers Xiojia Chen, also known as "Grace", as not only a great friend, but a teacher who loved her students.

“In Chinese school she used to fill in as a backup or volunteer teacher, help organize cultural events, dances, and performances,” said Zhou.

Grace moved to Austin from China and began to thrive. she opened up a Chinese language school in Northwest Austin.

“She was just definitely a productive, constructive member of the community...both Chinese and American at large,” said Zhou.

But on February 19, 2014 the mother, teacher, wife, and friend was found dead in the middle of the day on the second floor of this shopping complex. She was found near her school.

“She was found in a common area bathroom by her husband. it looks like at that time she was found in a stall,” said Ret. Det. Lisa Morrill, Austin Police Department.

Police say she was asphyxiated but won’t confirm if strangulation was the cause.

At the time, all available leads were exhausted, the case turned cold but investigators still aren't giving up. “Maybe somebody wasn't available at the time, because she had some contacts and some family from China,” said Morrill.

Her son, Yuchong, also known as "Jacky", lives in California. he was in college, and received a phone call with news of his mother's death. but with each passing day, he grows more hopeful a-p-d can catch his mother's killer.

“I try not to think of it,” said Chen.

He will not get to live the life with a mom, who can provide any love, comfort, and advice - many may take for granted.

“She's like the most important person in my life. she had been a single mom for more than ten years before she was remarried in the United States,” said Chen. 
“It's been four years and I miss her every day. I try not to think of the day when I received the phone call,” said Chen.

The loss of Grace was also devastating to Austin's Asian-american community at large. Grace came to Amy Mok at the "Asian American Cultural Center" for advice on opening her business.

“The murder of Grace actually provokes some emotions in our community,” said Amy Mok, founder.

Grace would often volunteer to work events with Mok.  she remembers her as a hard-working and kind woman.

“How can this happen? especially to a gentle woman like grace. We wouldn't think of any enemy whom she might have,” said Mok.

The case may be cold, but Mok still gets questions about updates. 

“Every time I have a community event, like Lunar New Year, people always ask me if I’ve heard anything about this murder?” said Mok.

Despite Jacky being more than 1,000 miles away in California, Mok says the people in Austin hope to provide a shoulder to cry on.

“Right now he's alone in this country and he will not have a mother to discuss, to talk about his education, his career, his relationship, his family,” said Mok.

“Someone just kills an innocent woman and walks away, and nobody saw anything?” said Chen. 

“Everyone is still considered a person of interest, including her husband,” said Morrill.

Those who loved Grace, cannot get her back, but at the very least, what they want, is peace.

I try to keep that hope alive. I want to seek justice for her and her son.

“I won't give up,” said Chen.

If you have any information on the Grace Chen case, call APD at 512-472-TIPS.

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