Family of 4 found dead in murder-suicide in western Taiwan

Family of 4 found dead inside taxi in apparent murder-suicide in Taichung, Taiwan

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Taxi found at the scene. (Taichung Police Department photo)

Taxi found at the scene. (Taichung Police Department photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A family of four was found dead inside a taxi in western Taiwan's Taichung City on Monday (Feb. 18) after they apparently asphyxiated from inhaling charcoal smoke, reported Liberty Times.

On Monday morning, firefighters found the bodies of a 32-year-old man surnamed Wu (吳), his 34-year-old wife surnamed Peng (彭), the couple's nine-year-old son, and their six-year-old daughter inside a taxi in Taichung City's Taiping District. Police found that charcoal had been burned inside the vehicle and Peng's hands had been bound with transparent tape, while the two children were found lying in the back seat.

Wu and Peng had reportedly been suffering marital conflict and had recently separated, with Peng moving in with her mother. On Sunday morning (Feb. 17), Peng left from her mother's home and drove her scooter with their children to meet Wu to discuss their divorce, but she never returned. Peng's family then reported to police that she was missing.

At 9 a.m. Monday morning, a member of the public found the taxi (owned by Wu's father) parked in an open area next to Beitian Road in the Tou-Bian mountainous area of Taiping District. When they approached the vehicle, they found two people lying unconscious in the front with the windows and doors tightly sealed.

Suspecting that it was a suicide, the bystander called the Fire Department. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they broke the windows to extricate Wu, who was still sitting the driver's seat, and Peng, who was in the passenger seat.

Their nine-year-old son and four-year-old daughter were lying in the backseat. None of the four had vital signs.

Inside the car, firefighters found a charcoal brazier and unfinished beverage cans. Outside the vehicle, they found unidentifiable pills scattered on the ground.

A forensic investigator found signs of a struggle between Wu and Peng, with obvious bruises and cuts on her arms and strangulation marks on her neck. However, the children did not have any external injuries on their bodies and were not bound.

There were, however, pills found on the scene and beverage cans, indicating that the victims may have been drugged before asphyxiating from the burning charcoal in the vehicle. The prosecution and police are working on determining whether the victims, especially the children, had been sedated by medication before being asphyxiated.

Those considering suicide should immediately call the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center at any time at 0800-788995 or Taiwan Lifeline International at 1995. Foreign residents can call the Community Services Center's emergency hotline at 0932-594-578 at any time 24 hours a day.