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A college student in Utah killed his girlfriend with heroin to ‘relieve her from suffering,’ police say

Haoyu Wang, 26, was taken into custody at a Quality Inn in Salt Lake City after police found him in a room with his girlfriend's body. (Salt Lake City Police Department))

Before police showed up at his hotel room on Friday morning, Haoyu Wang, a 26-year-old University of Utah student, sent an email to a university staff member, saying that he had injected his girlfriend with heroin to “relieve her from suffering,” according to an arrest affidavit.

Wang indicated in the email that he and his girlfriend would both be dead by the time they were found, the affidavit states.

Yet when officers entered the room about 6 a.m., only Wang’s girlfriend was dead, police said in a statement. Wang was taken into custody, and he is now being held without bail on a charge of “knowing and intentional” murder. Police said the case is being investigated as a “domestic violence-related homicide.” Court records do not indicate whether Wang has an attorney.

Wang’s girlfriend, 19, has not been publicly identified. The Salt Lake City Police Department said in a news release that she was living with Wang at the time. Wang, according to the affidavit, is a Chinese citizen. The University of Utah identified his girlfriend as an “international undergraduate student.”

In a statement, university officials called her death “a loss to our campus community.”

“The death of any young person embarking on adult life is devastating,” the statement said. “And, unfortunately, domestic violence is more prevalent than many of us are aware, even among college students.”

In recent years, several women at the university have died following violent encounters with intimate partners, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. In January 2019, Sarah Hawley was doing her medical residency at the university when her boyfriend shot her and then turned the gun on himself, according to police. Lauren McCluskey, a student-athlete on the university’s track team, was killed in front of her dorm in October 2018, allegedly by a man she had briefly dated, the Tribune reported.

In January, Wang was charged with assault for hitting his girlfriend during an argument at another hotel, giving her what paramedics described as a “goose egg” on her head, according to a probable cause affidavit in that case. He was released from jail to await trial after being deemed low risk of committing a violent crime, according to court documents.

The most recent arrest affidavit for Wang shows how officers were able to find the pair Friday. After being notified of the email, the University of Utah police traced the 19-year-old student’s phone to a Quality Inn about a 10-minute drive west of campus. With the Salt Lake City Police Department’s assistance, university officers conducted a welfare check at a room Wang had rented, according to the affidavit.

Paramedics determined at the scene that Wang’s girlfriend was dead, according to Salt Lake City police. Wang did not need treatment.

Wang told police in an interview that he and his girlfriend had planned to die together by suicide, according to the affidavit. To carry that out, Wang allegedly said he had ordered heroin and fentanyl online.

At the motel, he and his girlfriend snorted heroin, Wang told police, according to the affidavit. The woman vomited, stopped responding and began to breathe heavily, Wang said. That was when he “injected her with a high dose of heroin with the intent to kill her and relieve her suffering,” the affidavit states, adding: “After injecting the victim, Haoyu said that she died.”

Wang then injected himself with heroin and stayed in the room until police arrived, according to the affidavit.

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