Murder charge filed after University of Utah student overdoses at motel

Posted at 12:54 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 17:31:05-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A man has been charged with murder and other crimes after the overdose death of a University of Utah student at a Salt Lake City motel this month.

Hoayu Wang, 26, was charged on Friday with Murder (first degree felony), Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute (second degree felony), and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute (third degree felony).

“This is a tragic case," said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. "Our Office intends to do everything in our power to bring a measure of justice for the victim and their family. We have met with the family and ask that their privacy please be respected as they deal with their loss.”

According to the DA's office, on Feb. 11, Wang, who was also a student at the university, was at the Quality Inn with the victim where he intentionally gave her drugs, which caused her death.

The university identified the victim as undergraduate student Zhifan Dong. Police previously said Dong and Wang were in a "romantic relationship" and were living together at the time of her death.

The probable cause document stated that Wang sent an email to a university staff member the same day that stated he and Dong had “decided to use opioids to have a painless death.”

In the email, Wang added that after trying some of the drugs, Dong suffered respiratory depression and vomiting, then was unconscious for several hours. Wang said he didn’t want to see her suffer, so he injected her with "a high dose of heroin."

Officers conducted a welfare check at the motel after the University of Utah Police Department began pinging Dong's phone which showed where she as located.

Staff at the motel verified to police that Wang had checked in several days earlier and was still in the room. According to the document, officers then forced their way into Wang’s room where they found him lying on the bed next to Dong.

Officers testified they saw a syringe next to Dong and that Wang admitted that both had snorted heroin. Wang allegedly told officers he did not call an ambulance because she would have been hospitalized and they planned to commit suicide.

Wang also said that Dong was unconscious, but still breathing for several hours before he chose to inject her with more drugs to "relieve her suffering and cause her death."

The same day, a DEA agent tested samples of powdery substances in the room which came back as positive for fentanyl and ketamine. Officers said Wang admitted to purchasing those andand other drugs using bitcoin on the dark web and had the drugs delivered to the motel so that he could distribute them to Dong to "facilitate her death."

Wang is being held in jail without bond until his trial.