Boyfriend arrested for killing Oakland dentist dies by apparent suicide

  • Nelson Chia, 73, who was arrested on Friday on suspicion of murder, apparently hung himself in his own cell hours after his arrest.
  • Chia was arrested for the murder-for-hire killing of his longtime girlfriend, Dr. Lili Xu, a prominent 60-year-old dentist in Oakland’s Chinatown, on Aug. 21.
  • At the time, the couple was reportedly in a parked Mercedes-Benz at the intersection of East 11th St. and Fifth Ave. when someone from another vehicle approached Xu and then shot her multiple times.
  • Police on Friday also arrested the alleged gunman, 33-year-old Hasheem Bason, who was expected to be charged with murder. If convicted, Bason may be sentenced to life in prison or sentenced to death.

A man arrested for the murder-for-hire killing of a beloved dentist in Oakland, California, has apparently died by suicide, according to police.

Nelson Chia, 73, reportedly hung himself in his own cell after 2 p.m. on Friday, just hours after authorities announced his arrest alongside Hasheem Bason, the alleged gunman.

“Jail medical staff and emergency medical responders immediately began life-saving measures but unfortunately, their efforts were unsuccessful. It appears Chia took his own life in the single-occupant holding cell. There are no indications of foul play or any other suspicious activities,” the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Earlier, police identified Chia as a longtime boyfriend of Dr. Lili Xu, a prominent 60-year-old Chinatown dentist who was slain on Aug. 21. At the time, Xu was inside a black Mercedes-Benz sedan with Chia at the intersection of East 11th St. and Fifth Ave. when a man approached her and then shot her multiple times.

The gunman, now believed to be 33-year-old Bason, emerged from a white Lexus that pulled up next to the couple’s car. Surveillance footage shows the moment of the shooting, including Xu’s screams.

Chia was accused of paying Bason to kill Xu. Before Chia’s death, the two men were expected to be charged with murder. If convicted, Bason may be sentenced to life in prison or sentenced to death.

Police on Friday also disputed speculations that Xu was killed for her race. Instead, they believe Chia was motivated by financial gain.

“This case was not about race. This case was about greed,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said. “Some tried to use this case as a way of dividing our community. My hope is we can come together and support Xu’s family and our community, who have all experienced this tragedy.”

Xu’s death, as well as Chia’s apparent suicide, remain under investigation.

Featured Image via Oakland Police Department

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