More than two years have passed since 31-year-old Donglei Shi’s body was found near Story Park, and a suspect has yet to be arrested. The frustrated family has posted a reward, worked with police, and written letters to President Obama. Their latest effort is to hire a private investigator — a former FBI agent who claims to have worked on the Phil Specter and Michael Jackson cases — to help them find enough evidence to make an arrest.
The investigator, Dale Kelley, told the San Gabriel Tribune that he has located a key witness the Sheriff’s Department never interviewed:
"When I found him, he said, `I've been waiting two and a half years to talk to someone about this, because I saw something,"' Kelley said.
Kelley said the witness told him he saw a man drive up in a vehicle matching the description of Shi's car, with a woman draped across his lap. The man the witness saw, Kelley said, could be Shi's killer or know more information about her death.
Lt. John Corina of the LA Sheriff’s homicide department told the Tribune that as far as he knows, police have already interviewed the man who found Shi's body and are still actively pursuing the case. Solving the case, he said, has been difficult since there were no witnesses to Shi's death.
Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina voiced her support for the Sheriff’s Department, saying that although she feels for the Shi family, she believes the LASD is doing all they can. "All of those types of cases are very difficult and hard to solve," Messina told the Pasadena Star-News. "They have absolutely nothing to go on. It's like looking for a needle in a hay stack."
But Kelley and the Shi family feel the Sheriff’s Department is ignoring clues, especially those leading to two men associated with Donglei, a boyfriend and an ex-boyfriend. Shi reportedly had two life insurance policies in place before her death, each listing one of the men as the beneficiary, the Tribune reports. Shi reportedly changed one policy three times, the last change listing her ex-boyfriend as the beneficiary a month before she died. Kelley believes this change was fraudulent.
Autopsy reports show that Shi was struck on the head, strangled, and likely raped anally before being dragged several feet and placed on an embankment at Story Park, the Tribune reports. Corina told the Tribune that police do not believe Shi’s death to be connected with other killings.
A victims' rights advocate and the mother of Sammantha Salas, an Alhambra High student who was murdered in 2008, has asked that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to have the case file reviewed by the county Office of Independent Review on the Shi's behalf, according to the Tribune.
Alhambra Councilman Steven Placido said the city will do anything it can to help the Shi family. "We all want the same thing, we all want some resolution," Placido told the Star-News. "If it was my daughter I would sure want some closure to it and to find out who was responsible for doing such heinous things to my family."