A 21-year-old engineering student at the University of Washington, Angelina Tran, was tragically killed in her family’s home in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood on August 7. Tran was reportedly stabbed over 100 times while trying to protect her mother from her stepfather, Nghiep Kein Chau, 54.
According to court documents, Tran was awakened by a commotion in the early hours of the morning. She found Chau assaulting her mother in the kitchen, having already struck her a dozen times. Tran intervened, leading to Chau attacking both women. Tran’s mother managed to escape and call 911, while Tran tried to prevent Chau from pursuing her.
The altercation escalated when Chau allegedly grabbed a knife and stabbed Tran 107 times. Court documents reveal that Chau paused his attack multiple times, once to change his clothes and another time to switch knives. Home security footage also showed Chau looking for Tran’s mother after she had called the police.
Police arrived at the scene shortly before 5 a.m., finding an unidentified woman with facial injuries. They also found Chau, still holding the bloody knife, who reportedly confessed to the crime. Chau was immediately arrested and later told police that he had been arguing with his wife, to whom he had been married for 19 years.
Chau allegedly admitted to assaulting Tran’s mother because he believed she was planning to divorce him and take his money. He also expressed anger at Tran’s intervention and claimed he would have killed his wife if he had found her before the police arrived.
Following the incident, police obtained search warrants and collected evidence from the home, including the home security footage that captured the initial assault and much of the stabbing. Chau has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. He is currently being held at the King County Correctional Facility on a $5 million bond, with prosecutors arguing that he poses a flight risk and a threat to the community. His arraignment, initially scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed to August 31.
In the wake of this tragedy, Tran’s friends and family have started a fundraiser for the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging in her memory. They describe Tran as a “gem of a human being” whose “radiant smile was a source of immense joy.” All donations will be directed to the nonprofit, reflecting Tran’s spirit and her dedication to improving the lives of elderly individuals.