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Yale murder mystery 'person of interest' attended MIT with victim's fiancée, but connection unknown

Written by on February 11, 2021

The person of interest wanted for questioning in connection to Yale University graduate student Kevin Jiang’s murder in New Haven, Conn., on Feb. 6 had attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at the same time as Jiang’s fiancée, Fox News has learned.

But authorities have not confirmed a connection or whether the two knew each other at the school.

A spokesman for the New Haven Police Department confirmed to Fox News Thursday that 29-year-old Massachusetts resident Qinxuan Pan, a researcher at MIT, remains at large. He is considered to be armed and dangerous and there are two warrants out for his arrest in Connecticut and Massachusetts for a stolen vehicle he was in possession of in North Haven, New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes said at the most recent news conference Wednesday, when he first named Pan as a person of interest in Jiang’s death.

CONNECTICUT POLICE NAME PERSON OF INTEREST IN YALE MURDER MYSTERY AS MIT RESEARCHER 

The next update is expected to be at an 11 a.m. press conference Friday, police spokesman Captain Anthony Duff said, though that could be subject to change if there are significant developments in the homicide case before that time. 

Pan was last seen at a Best Western in North Haven, Conn., Reyes said.

Authorities released this photo of Qinxuan Pan, a 29-year-old researcher at MIT wanted for questioning in Kevin Jiang's murder. 

Authorities released this photo of Qinxuan Pan, a 29-year-old researcher at MIT wanted for questioning in Kevin Jiang’s murder.  (New Haven Police Department)

Mystery has shrouded the circumstances leading up to the shooting death of Jiang, a 26-year-old devout Christian, Army veteran, National Guardsmen and a graduate student at the Yale School of the Environment as a member of the class of 2022.

He had just proposed to his fiancée, Zion Perry, on Jan. 30 — exactly one year after the two met on a church retreat. A week later, he was shot dead. New Haven police responded to multiple 911 calls about gunshots at about 8:30 p.m on Feb. 6 in the East Rock neighborhood.

Jiang was operating a car at the time of the shooting, and authorities are investigating whether someone struck his car intentionally. 

FIANCEE OF SLAIN YALE STUDENT, ARMY VETERAN SPEAKS OUT AFTER HIS MURDER 

Five days went by before Pan was named as a person of interest Wednesday. Reyes said that investigators learned the North Haven Police Department had an encounter with Pan not long after the shooting, when officers responded to the Best Western hotel to a call about a suspicious vehicle and a man by train tracks, the New Haven Independent reported. Police questioned Pan and left.

Pan has been enrolled as a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Dlectrical Engineering and Computer Science since September 2014, the university confirmed to Fox News Thursday. He received undergraduate degrees in computer science and mathematics from the Institute in June 2014.

Kevin Jiang proposed to Zion Perry on Jan. 30 - a year after they met at a church retreat in Connecticut.

Kevin Jiang proposed to Zion Perry on Jan. 30 – a year after they met at a church retreat in Connecticut. (Facebook)

Meanwhile, Perry graduated from MIT in 2020, earning her undergraduate degree in biological engineering. She enrolled at Yale University for graduate school in a different department than Jiang.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to her, the Yale community, and all those impacted in this unfathomably painful time,” MIT spokeswoman Kimberly Allen told Fox News.

“MIT Police are in close contact with the New Haven Police Department and U.S. Marshals service and, based on information from these officials, have no reason to believe that our campus or our Greater Boston communities are at risk.”

CONNECTICUT POLICE SAY SLAIN YALE GRAD STUDENT MAY HAVE BEEN TARGETED; SEARCH CONTINUES FOR ALLEGED KILLER 

Reyes said Wednesday he could not reveal information regarding a possible connection between Perry and Pan at that time as not to compromise the nature of the investigation.

“What I can tell you at this time is that we are exploring every angle in relation to this investigation and related to everyone person involved,” Reyes said. “At this point, we’re not prepared to tell you what our information is regarding their involvement and whether or not there is a connection between that and this investigation. What we can tell you is that we are exploring that.”

At a prior press conference Monday related to the case, Reyes said that investigators believed Jiang might have had been targeted and that the shooting was not a random incident.

Perry did not return Fox News’ request for comments on this story Thursday.

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Speaking over the phone with Fox News Tuesday, she said that she had “no idea” why someone might target Jiang, saying she didn’t “have any information to share about that.”

Perry said her fiancé was “an on-fire follower of Jesus” with a “life lived following after God.”

Anyone with information about Pan’s whereabouts or other details of the case is asked to contact New Haven police. Tips can be called in to 1-866-888-TIPS or via email to ECIC@newhavenct.gov.

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