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Father says autopsy shows Stanford student was murdered

Original post made on Aug 20, 2007

The father of a 23-year-old Stanford University student who was found dead in the trunk of her car in January still insists his daughter was killed and he said last week an autopsy showed she died of blunt force trauma.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 20, 2007, 4:48 PM

Comments (32)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2007 at 5:12 pm

No smoke without fire. I was always suspicious of the suicide announcement. It sounded too unlikely and convenient.


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Posted by Another cynic
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 20, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Me, too. Poor girl..poor family.


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Posted by ca
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2007 at 5:45 pm

cant trust police these days. they lie about people they dont like


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Posted by CA
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2007 at 7:11 pm

CA...the full facts are not out there, and already the police bashing begins..how typical of ignorant PA...i hate this city


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Posted by John
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 21, 2007 at 7:34 am

Why is this news now? This private autopsy was done in May. Who is making this a story now?

I'm betting it's the victim's family and they are trying to drum up interest in the case.

Which is fine. But let's just step back for a minute and ask some very basic questions: who wants to keep this story alive? And (most importantly) why would the police bury this case? What do they have to gain out of this? And what does the family have to gain out of convincing people this was murder and not suicide?


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Posted by Anamika
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 21, 2007 at 7:52 am

More than likely it is the family who wants to keep the story alive .. and IMO they are doing the right thing. They have lost a loved one, they are trying to get some answers.

The police have said that the material found in the car leads them to believe that it was a suicide - but they are not saying what material. The public does not need to know these details - but does the family know?

The police probably don't have anything to bury on this case ( I hope not ) - this case must have taken a back seat and the family is doing all they can to keep the case in news.

My prayers are with the family. From the beginning, I have found this case to be very baffling - the police's theory never made any sense to me and I always had logistics issues ..

To the family - I hope you get the answers that you are looking for.


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Posted by Tears From Heaven
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 21, 2007 at 12:52 pm


God bless and protect the Zhou family, and give them the strength to seek the justice they have been denied.


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Posted by mary
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 21, 2007 at 1:43 pm


you better believe this is a public relations issue with stanford u

with all the hype about campus saftey nationwide it is a stain on the record of this most renound west coast university i smell a coverup with the motivation to keep stanfords good name out of scandal or violence


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Posted by It was probably suicide
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 21, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Mary--please provide some proof of any cover up by Stanford officials. What we have now are tow different conclusions by two different pathologists? Why are we so quick to assume that the father's pathologist is correct? Couldn't this so-called blunt force trauma have occured by the victim thrashing around in the trunk while dying?
Another example of how some locals are quick to bash Stanford


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Posted by mary's conscience
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2007 at 2:07 pm

mary, how dare you impose your private agenda into the Zhou's recent tragedy. How dare you stain the reputation of a great institution with unfounded accusations.

I can take most of the harshness on this board, but some things are simply beyond the pale.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 21, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Is there any evidence that the Santa Rosa police did not do their job? I am unfamiliar with that department but have not heard news reports questioning their abilities to conduct investigations.

I understood that the items found in the car were not described to the new media and the public due to the police showing respect for the deceased and her family. The family does have a right to look into matters, but not the general public.


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Posted by One Comment Only
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2007 at 4:36 pm

I hope the family can put this to rest, one way or the other. I wonder if suicide reflects badly on the family, and so they look for other reasons for this tragedy.
I recall the articles at the time only mentioning packages of some over the counter drug - maybe benydryl?
Tragic, but I don't believe there was a cover up.


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Posted by joyce
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 23, 2007 at 4:59 am

How many people do you know who would voluntarily shut themselves into the trunk of a car under any circumstances?

This family is seeking the justice that is due them and their daughter.


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Posted by SK
a resident of University South
on Aug 23, 2007 at 9:33 am

I am not buying the cover up conspiracy theory some of you are harping about. I don't see any reason stanford or the police would do so, nor any indication or evidence.


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Posted by 23
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 23, 2007 at 12:45 pm

i noticed some stanford sheriffs stopping a young south asian looking student at tressider. it was like he was a terrorist suspect or something. it was probably some misunderstanding , but the police had that ''national security'' kind of atmosphere about it. they really looked freaked and overconcerned. it was a well dressed young small statured guy. stanford sheriffs are disrespectful toward non white e3specially african american snide insulting comments to highly educated africsan american men.


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Posted by AStanfordparent
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2007 at 2:33 pm

My heart goes out to the family. The circumstances seemed very unusual and if I were in their shoes, I too would press for a full investigation especially if there is an autopsy report that contradicts what the police are saying.

It seems from the media coverage that there are in fact still questions and the family deserves complete answers. For example, it appeared from one article that the police were not releasing the original autopsy results; if that is the case, (I don't know, of course) and the family got a different report, why not pursue disclosure of the original report to try to determine which one is accurate?

I'm not trying to draw a direct analogy, but in fact sometimes things are NOT what they are reported to be. Consider the Pat Tillman case. Had it not been for the family's persistence, the truth of that tragedy would never have come out.

I support the family's attempts to find answers and I hope if they become available, that they will have some peace. It must be simply horrible for them and I feel so sad for them.


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Posted by Ruled a Suicide
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Now her parents will have to accept what evidence supports to be a suicide. What a shame.

Web Link


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Posted by kat
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 23, 2007 at 6:19 pm

I don't think the bottle of sleeping pills will necessarily stop her parents from claiming murder. In their view the bottles could have been put there to make it look like a suicide. If they are invested in the murder theory, they look at all the evidence with that slant.


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Posted by Let's Stick to the Facts
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 23, 2007 at 11:22 pm

It must be tough for the family to admit their daughter committed suicide... I'm afraid they are seeking desperate measures to save themselves and their family from such shame. If they have concrete proof from their autopsy (the quality of which might be suspect), they should hand it over. However, Police Sgt. "Henry said on Friday that police were not invited to participate in the second autopsy in San Diego and that police have been denied copies and photographs of that autopsy." This seems very odd to me. If the family wants to prove foul play, they have to play straight with authorities. Otherwise, they might just be trying to buy the answers they are looking for. I think we need to wait for all the facts to come out before we start crying conspiracy.


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Posted by It was probably suicide
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 24, 2007 at 7:38 am

Well, the results are in:

Web Link

Obviously a family does not want to believe their child committed suicide and in some cultures it is considered a major loss of face for the family.

If the father has proof of murder, then as other's have stated, turn it over to the police


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Posted by Anamika
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2007 at 9:07 am

There were no apparent signs of any stress with this girl. She had passed her significant milestone exam with flying colors and from the other history of achievements associated with her - she seemed like a kid who was on the right track towards her goals !

Considering all this, is there a doubt why it is difficult for the family to accept it as a suicide? Yes, the autopsy reports don't lie - there were high levels of the sleeping medication in her system - wonder if anyone could have forced her to consume that much medication .. but then she bought the pills herself. Police did their job, the parents are trying to make some sense out of the situation. This blame game will continue for some more time ..

In the end, I hope the parents get some peace that they are looking for and bury their daughter. It is a very difficult and bad situation for the family.


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Posted by faithful
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2007 at 8:12 pm

I THINK THE STORY IS VERY SUSPICICUS, WHY WOULD SHE COME ALL THE WAY TO SANTA ROSA TO COMITT SUICIDE, THEIR'S PLENTY OF PLACES SHE COULD OF DONE IT, WHY WOULD SHE WANT TO SUFER IN THE IN THE TRUNK OF HER CAR, SHE COULD OF GOT A HOTEL ROOM SOME WHERE AND TOOK PILLS, THE PARENTS SHOULD DO EVERYTHING IN THERE POWER TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH, WHAT PARENT WOULDN'T, MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH THE FAMILY,
I HOPE THEY GET ANSWERS SOON AND SOMEONE PAYS FOR THIS CRIME


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Posted by IQ
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2007 at 5:49 am


Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
- Ernest Hemingway, author and journalist, Nobel laureate (1899-1961)

Many high IQ people tend to be unhappy. They may be able to do some things that most would struggle to do - hence seek help from "GOD" ... whatever that "GOD" means - high IQ people know life to a greater extent and can see the real vanity of it.




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Posted by Think about It
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2007 at 12:51 am

Zhou's shutting herself up in a trunk would make it much harder for anyone to find her after she took the sleeping pills and thus ensure a successful O.D.

All that the trunk and the trip to Santa Rosa show is that it was a serious attempt--she didn't want to be found.

I think the family's response is understandable--they don't want to believe their beautiful, brilliant daughter killed herself.




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Posted by I am just a bypasser
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2007 at 10:32 pm

It is hard to believe she suisides. Somebody may be jealous about her and killed her. I think one hallmark of some intellectual students is jealousy. Think about the story of Zhu Ling (Web Link

Web Link
) who was also a beautiful and brilliant girl but got poisoned "mysteriously". That is another poor girl. Poor family. The criminal is still at large.

Peace with them. Call for morality!

Evil must be stopped!!!!!

My heart goes to the family.


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Posted by Think about it
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2007 at 4:40 pm

Suicide's far more common than murder. The evidence points strongly to suicide. And forced ingestion of three bottles of sleeping pills? No.

Zhou's suicide was carefully planned to succeed. She had her cell phone, but turned it off. She bought the bottles at three different places so she wouldn't be tracked.

There's a book, The Savage God by A. Alvarez, which describes well the inner world of a suicide. Zhou easily fits someone who could suffer from suicidal depression. A look at her family's Web site shows that her achievements were extremely important to them--it's clear that there were high expectations of her.

Those high expectations encouraged her to achieve, no doubt. By the same token, never feeling one can meet the expectations is a recipe for depression. Or a situation where no success is ever enough to fill the emptiness.

It's a terrible thing, but I don't think pretending some mysterious killer was involved helps anyone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Think about it
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2007 at 4:40 pm

Suicide's far more common than murder. The evidence points strongly to suicide. And forced ingestion of three bottles of sleeping pills? No.

Zhou's suicide was carefully planned to succeed. She had her cell phone, but turned it off. She bought the bottles at three different places so she wouldn't be tracked.

There's a book, The Savage God by A. Alvarez, which describes well the inner world of a suicide. Zhou easily fits someone who could suffer from suicidal depression. A look at her family's Web site shows that her achievements were extremely important to them--it's clear that there were high expectations of her.

Those high expectations encouraged her to achieve, no doubt. By the same token, never feeling one can meet the expectations is a recipe for depression. Or a situation where no success is ever enough to fill the emptiness.

It's a terrible thing, but I don't think pretending some mysterious killer was involved helps anyone.


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Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 5, 2007 at 11:03 am

Insurance is a possibility.


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Posted by Rachele
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2009 at 6:19 am

How can I get in touch with her father? I go to the SRJC where she was found.


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Posted by Roxanne
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2009 at 8:17 am

Schools are big business. Most campus rapes are not made known to te student body right away until the predator becomes a serial rapist. I noticed that rapes and attempted rape accounts at the college are expunged from the records when trying to write an article about it. I was also told the college would not allow me to publish that work. The only problem is I knew a young woman who was attacked while changing one evening in the gym. Fortunately for her she is a black belt in karate! Somehow her report disappeared! I say to the father, look into her emails. See if that has a link to a computor at the SRJC. Also telephone records! I think she was lured somewhere, attacked and probably made at knife point or gun point to take pills afterwards and put in the trunk. This is one of the most uncommon ways to commit suicide. Why not at home? This case stinks to high heaven. I don't buy suicide and I encourage women in colleges to have something sharp in their purses to bore out the eyes of some woman hating man who likes to rape and/or murder.


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Posted by In response to Me
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2009 at 8:19 am

All life insurance policies are null and void in the event of suicide. Think again.


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Posted by ME
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Oh I think she was killed and they just couldn't prove who did it.

That videotape of May buying the sleeping aid?
It wasn't her, it was someone else from San Francisco who went along for the ride and wore her clothes.

SRPD never did get a good shot of her face because she never gave them one.
:)



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