What We Know About The Unsolved 2014 Murders Of The Chen Family

On October 8, 2014, 39-year-old Jin Feng Chen failed to report for work at a Chinese restaurant near his Guilderland, New York home. As it was unusual for Chen to miss work, his coworkers were concerned for his welfare. As reported by A&E, one of Chen's coworkers went to his home to find out why he did not show up for work. The coworker was greeted by the gruesome scene of four brutal murders that remain unsolved to this day.

When authorities arrived on the scene, they found 39-year-old Jin Feng Chen dead on the first floor of his home. Upstairs, they discovered the bodies of his 38-year-old wife Hai Yan Li, his 10-year-old son Anthony, and his 7-year-old son Eddy. Law enforcement officials determined all four victims were stabbed and beaten, with a vast majority of the injuries on their faces and heads. Authorities said they believe the attacker or attackers used a knife and hammer to kill the family.

The Chen family was killed in the early morning hours of October 8, 2014

Authorities eventually determined the murders occurred in the early morning hours of October 8, 2014. They specifically believe the Chen family was killed between 3:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. As reported by A&E, authorities noted the bodies of Hai Yan Li, Anthony, and Eddy were covered in blankets. However, there was little other evidence suggesting who killed the family or why.

Jin Feng Chen and Hai Yan Li were natives of China's Fujian province. The couple immigrated to the United States in the early 2000s. A&E reports that Chen moved to the United States legally, but his wife may have been undocumented. According to reports, Chen owned a Chinese restaurant. However, in the years before he was killed, the business was not very profitable, and some sources questioned how he maintained his lifestyle with the reduced income. Still, law enforcement officials could not find any evidence of complaints or criminal records related to the Chen family, and their neighbors did not report seeing any conflicts between family members.

Language barriers and immigration statuses hampered the investigation

Anthony and Eddy Chen attended Guilderland Elementary School, where they were both described as happy and thoughtful students. As reported by A&E, the brothers both enjoyed working with plants and were part of the school's garden club. In the course of their investigation, authorities received hundreds of tips and followed up on numerous leads. However, their efforts were hampered by seemingly unfounded rumors and language barriers. 

As many of the people they sought to interview were Chinese and did not speak fluent English, detectives had to determine which dialect the witnesses used and find appropriate interpreters. The investigation was also made difficult by the reluctance of possible witnesses to come forward, as many were undocumented immigrants. In an effort to encourage more witnesses to come forward, A&E reports that Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares offered witnesses immunity from being prosecuted for immigration-related offenses.

Authorities said the circumstances of the case are very complicated

According to A&E, District Attorney P. David Soares said he thinks the murders were "a very intentional act" and that the Chens were "very intended targets." He also said the only person who can answer all of the detectives' questions is the killer. Soares said, "The reasons why you would take the life of children? You have to actually be sitting across from the person who did that to ask that question."

In addition to local authorities, The Daily Gazette reports that the FBI, Homeland Security, and state police have assisted in the investigation into the Chen family murders. Unfortunately, they have not been able to identify any viable suspects or persons of interest. Soares said law enforcement officials are dealing with "one of the most complicated sets of circumstances [they] ever experienced in an investigation."

Rumors suggest Jin Feng Chen may have been involved in illegal activity

There are several prevailing theories as to what may have happened to the Chen family. As reported by A&E, some sources have suggested Jin Feng Chen was involved in an operation involving undocumented Chinese restaurant employees throughout the region. According to some reports, large amounts of cash — which came from various sources — financed an underground network of undocumented Chinese citizens living in the area. It is rumored that Jin Feng Che was heavily involved in the underground network and personally handled many of the transactions, often keeping large amounts of money in his home. However, authorities never confirmed his involvement.

Other rumors suggest Chen hosted a gambling party at his home in the evening before he and his family were killed. It was implied that Chang and his family might have been killed by an attendee who knew he kept large amounts of cash in the house.

The Chen family murders were never solved

Jin Feng Chen's brother denied the rumors. Although he admitted Chen hosted card games, he said they were intimate events that were only attended by family and close friends (via A&E). Authorities explored similar murders of Chinese individuals and families in the region but were unable to find enough evidence to link any of those crimes to the Chen family murders. Detectives also looked into local crime syndicates and reports of human trafficking. However, they did not find any links to the Chen family or the murders.

In the weeks following the murder, local Pastor Charlie Muller's church donated $5,000 for a reward. In a 2019 interview with 6 News, Muller said the money is still available to anyone providing information leading to an arrest and conviction in the murders of the Chen family. Muller said the tragedy affected the entire community. Rosalyn Kowalski, who was a neighbor of the Chens, told 6 News, "I'll never forget that day, never." Kowalski said Jin Feng and Hai Yan Li did not speak fluent English. However, Anthony and Eddy often came to her home to play with her puppies. She said both of the brothers "were sweet." Kowalski said she does not have any faith that the gruesome crime will ever be solved. During her conversation with 6 News, she said, "Everyone knows this will be unsolved forever."