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Taiwan millionaire teen dead hours after marriage still in morgue 9 months later

Mother pays monthly fees to keep body on ice in case there is need for further investigation

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The deceased Lai is pictured with his adoptive father, from whom he inherited NT$500 million. (CNA photo)

The deceased Lai is pictured with his adoptive father, from whom he inherited NT$500 million. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A dramatic story returned to Taiwan’s headlines on Thursday (Feb. 2) as the mother of an 18-year-old millionaire high school student who died hours after he was married said she has kept her son’s body on ice for nearly nine months.

Speaking through her lawyer in Taichung, the mother of the deceased 18-year-old surnamed Lai (賴) said she has not cremated her son for fear his body will be needed for further investigation, per CNA.

Her multi-millionaire son died in May when he fell from a balcony at the apartment of a man he had married two hours earlier.

Lai inherited NT$500 million (US$16.32 million) from his father shortly before the death, immediately drawing allegations of foul-play and national media attention. In June, prosecutors decided not to charge the 27-year-old husband, surnamed Hsia (廈), with murder.

Lai’s mother challenged the decision, and Taichung prosecutors are reinvestigating the case. The mother said that in the meantime, she has paid NT$30,000 per month in morgue fees to keep her son’s body in its frozen state for 272 days.

Widower Hsia denied accusations that he murdered Lai for the inheritance money. Hsia was charged with forging documents required to process the marriage, as prosecutors obtained video evidence of the couple searching for strangers to act as witnesses to the marriage shortly before it occurred.

Taiwan millionaire teen dead hours after marriage still in morgue 9 months later
Lai's mother speaks to the media shortly after her son's death. (CNA photo)

However, Lai’s mother said her son was not gay, and had only met Hsia twice before they were married. She said her son had no reason to commit suicide, and claimed he had previously professed his love for a female classmate.

The status of Lai’s mother as a Chinese citizen provided yet more fodder for headline writers as her legal status in Taiwan raised questions about whether she could inherit her son’s money. The facts somehow stretched even further as it was subsequently revealed the mother’s first husband was also her son’s half-brother.

Lai’s mother reportedly came to Taiwan from China after a man sought her out to marry his disabled son. While married to the son, Lai’s mother developed a relationship with the father (who was married at the time), and the pair had their own son — the deceased Lai, who remains frozen.

After the disabled man to whom Lai's mother was married passed away, Lai’s father applied to adopt him so that they could have a father-son relationship under law. This new legal relationship replaced the grandfather-son relationship they had when his mother was married to her first husband.