Five teenagers never before in trouble with the police were charged today in Queens, N.Y., with beating a deliveryman to death for a $60 order of Chinese food, New York police said.
The teenagers — the youngest was just 14 — had already consumed Chinese food when, apparently still hungry, they placed an order Friday night for delivery from the Golden Wok restaurant to an abandoned house in St. Albans, Queens, a suburb-like New York City borough.
When the deliveryman, Sheng Jin Liu, 44, arrived at the vacant house carrying orders of General Tso’s chicken, chicken and broccoli, shrimp low men and shrimp egg foo yung, the teenagers beat Liu with fists and bricks. The teenagers then fled with one bag of food, leaving Liu for dead.
“They were just looking for a free meal,” one law enforcement official said. Police say the teenagers planned the attack before placing their order.
The crime is reminiscent of the killing of two pizza deliveryman in New Jersey in 1997, a case that garnered national attention to its random, callous nature. Authorities dubbed the slayings of Jeremy Giordano and Georgio Gallara “thrill killings” because they said the teens simply wanted to kill someone. Both suspects have been convicted; one of the killers is on death row.
“He was killed without provocation and without reason,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said of the recent slaying. “It was a shocking crime which leaves us all shaking our heads as to why these kids would do what they are accused of doing.”
Traced by a Cell Phone
New York City detectives investigating the killing arrested the teenagers after tracing a call to a cell phone one of them used to place the order.
The teenagers, all friends from Queens, were identified as Robert Savage, 14, James Stone, 16, Stacy Royster, 17, Jamel Murphy, 17, and Darryl Tyson, 17. All were charged with second-degree murder; first-degree manslaughter, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon offenses.
According to a criminal complaint, the defendants admitted “they were going to forcibly take the food from the victim” Queens Detective Douglas Diesu said.
Royster, the girl, called the Gold Wok restaurant and placed several orders of food shortly before 11:30 p.m., police said. Royster met Liu as he drove up to the house and the four others joined her, they said.
The four boys then “held the victim, put a sheet over his head, beat him with their fists,” according to the complaint. Savage, the youngest suspect, then allegedly struck the victim in the head with a brick, leveling the fatal blow, police said. The teenagers admitted they took one bag of the food, fled the scene and ate it, they said.
Liu’s wife called police after he did not return to the restaurant within 15 minutes. Police traced the delivery order to find Liu, who was slain just a mile from the restaurant. He died of multiple blunt impact injuries to the face, scalp and torso, according to the medical examiner.
A Family Man
Friends and co-workers said Liu, the owner of Golden Wok who often helped deliver orders, was a family man. According to friends and neighbors, Liu came to the United States 10 years ago from Fuzhou, in southern China. He worked for several years at other restaurants before opening three Chinese takeout restaurants of his own in Queens.
Liu’s wife and two teenage children came to New York two years ago, and all worked in restaurants.
“His wife and children are blown away by this,” said one friend.
The Associated Press and WABC in New York contributed to this report.