DA: First-degree murder charges for Palo Alto woman

Jingyan Jin, sister-in-law of victim Jenny Shi, accused in gruesome stabbing death in Greenmeadow

A Palo Alto mother of two will face first-degree murder charges in the July stabbing death of her sister-in-law, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office announced on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Jingyan Jin, 41, is accused of stabbing 65-year-old acupuncturist Jenny Shi 41 times in Shi's bedroom on July 7, according to a Palo Alto Police Department statement of facts. Shi, a successful but very private businesswoman and angel investor, was found lifeless at her home on the 300 block of Creekside Drive of the Greenmeadow neighborhood by her sister, who called police at about 7:45 p.m.

Shi had missed a 10 a.m. business appointment that day and had not been heard from since the night before, according to the police statement by Detective Eric Bulatao. A business associate and a bookkeeper went to Shi's home to check on her. The front door was locked and Shi's car was still parked in the driveway. The business associate called Shi's maid to bring a key to open the door.

The maid arrived, accompanied by her husband. A contractor and Shi's sister, Yanne Shi, arrived at the house separately. All four entered the residence, but the bedroom door was locked, according to the report. The contractor broke through the door, but there was a second door behind it, which was also locked. That door had to be removed from its hinges.

Shi's sister entered the bedroom and found Shi on the bed in a large amount of blood. All four left the residence and called police.

A number of expensive items, located in plain sight, had not been taken, but Bulatao found a chair propped against a window frame outside of the home. The ground showed marks in the dirt made by dragging the chair to the window. The window screen had been cut on three sides and a small window removed; it was found laying in the bathtub, according to the report.

Jin was identified by the Santa Clara County Crime Lab in late September by partial DNA evidence found on the window knob and on the edges of the same window, according to the report.

Jin allegedly had a rocky relationship with Shi, according to a neighbor of the victim. Jin had lived in the home with her two children for a time, but she moved out about a year ago because the two women were not getting along, the neighbor said.

Police also said that Jin, who is married to Shi's brother, had allegedly threatened her husband with a knife and a stun gun, allegedly drugged a cup of his tea with Benadryl and had a verbal altercation with Shi at the home within the past year.

Jin was also arrested in China in September for allegedly fighting with one of Shi's business employees after having attempted to enter the employee's apartment while possessing a knife and plastic gloves, according to the report.

Police waited for Jin to return to Palo Alto from China and they arrested her near her home in the 700 block of San Antonio Road, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Walsh said. The DNA and her relationship with Shi will weigh significantly as evidence, he said.

"This is a case that fortunately has been solved. Had this case taken place 20 or 30 years ago this is a case that might not have been solved. There were numerous initial suspects that were looked into, but ultimately what solved this case was forensic science and DNA, and that evidence led back to this defendant," he said.

Walsh said Shi was likely killed in the 24 hours prior to being found. Prosecutors and police have some ideas on the motive, but Walsh said he doesn't want to speculate because the investigation is ongoing.

"I do think that the facts -- as the case proceeds forward and this information comes to light -- I believe the motive will be very clear and also the location of the DNA will be very significant as a piece of evidence in this case.

"I think you'll see there is a past history that goes to the relationship, which is significant evidence in this case," he said.

On Tuesday, the diminutive Jin sat in the courtroom composed and alert in a red jail uniform, waving cheerfully at three friends who had come to the court proceeding.

The friends, who asked not to be named, said Jin's two children attend school with their children.

"We can't believe that she would be accused of something like this. She is just a mother of two children. She is a very nice person. We just care about her," one of the women said.

"I'm shocked," said another woman who described Jin as "a lovely person."

She said that Jin regularly volunteered at the school. She recalled going to Shi's house a few times when Jin and her children lived there. She took part in a Bible-study group at the home with Jin.

But "something happened about two years ago," the friend said, although she did not know the nature of the disagreement. Shi also reportedly told Jin not to have the Bible group at the home anymore, she said.

Jin's arraignment in Santa Clara County Superior Court was postponed until Wednesday because a Mandarin-speaking translator was not available. Jin remains in custody without bail.


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36 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2016 at 7:24 pm

Being a retired police officer, when you stab someone 41 times, you knew the victim and it was personal. Sad for both families.

20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2016 at 8:17 am

This is such a sad story, but the defendant's family and especially the children must be suffering dreadfully. There is not just one family member who has died but a second who has basically been lost to them. Whatever the motive, this is something that will haunt them forever.

So sad for all, my condolences to all the extended family.

19 people like this
Posted by Overkill
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2016 at 10:34 am

Overkill is a registered user.

In a case of "overkill" such as this, the alleged murderer must have been extremely and passionately angry with the victim--to the point where she was not thinking, just reacting to her anger.

So tragic that she did not stop and think about the consequences for all involved, including her children. They are now bereft of their mother and their aunt!

4 people like this
Posted by Innocent Until...
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 12, 2016 at 11:30 am

Let's not forget that she is entitled to due process and a fair trial. Under our constitution, she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Like this comment
Posted by Legal Opinion vs Personal opinion
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 12, 2016 at 11:53 am

[Post removed.]

19 people like this
Posted by Name
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2016 at 12:53 pm

So much for " presumed innocent until proven guilty" The media and the society already condemned her. I find it shameful that they media published her picture before the trial. Palo Alto is a small town and there are children and family members in the area. They must be already torn to pieces, for the media to add fire to their horror this way. For the sake of what? sensationalism? What good would it do? What lack of compassion! Let the trial take place, and then publish all you want about the condemned, if necessary. Otherwise, lets not feed on morbid curiosity. We need to be responsible citizens and act accordingly with the most vulnerable. What a shame!

25 people like this
Posted by I don't see a problem
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

They publish pictures of uncharged suspects all the time. At least this one has a Murder 1 charge. I see no reason for outrage. This is not a presumption of guilt. In the law she is still considered innocent. Individuals, on the other hand are free to comment on their opinion as well as form one of their own regarding her guilt. I have a feeling the courts will prove many of us right.

14 people like this
Posted by So Tragic
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2016 at 1:10 pm

So Tragic is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Li Chang
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2016 at 3:04 pm

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by @Barron Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 12, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I'm sorry, but was that necessary?

Having political views is one thing. Bringing them in to a discussion like this is inappropriate and totally unnecessary.

9 people like this
Posted by Gina
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2016 at 4:57 pm

The suspect is a very nice lady. She cares and loves her children and others. When I had a problem with my child, she always encouraged me to continue loving and supporting child and never give up. When I was not able to pick up my child, she helped picking up my child.

She takes care of her children alone. Her husband was absent for years. This is really a tragedy. I felt so sorry for her and her children. I don't believe she did it.

7 people like this
Posted by TKC
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2016 at 2:00 am

This is so sad. Despite her projection on public platforms, Jenny was a soft spoken and gentle person in private. I had the privilege of working with her briefly many years ago. She will be missed by the new-venture community.

12 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2016 at 10:42 am

It seems she has been married but raising her children like a single mother for years because her husband has been away in China. There are many, many such Chinese women in Palo Alto, probably in the hundreds. They are called "Da Nai" in Chinese. They live here so that the kids can have a good education. But while they are loyal to the husband, the husband usually has lovers or other extra-marital affairs in China.

I have always been amazed by how these Chinese women can put up with such arrangements. Maybe it's part of Chinese culture. In one instance the husband has been so far living in China for 16 years, visiting his wife and two kids in Palo Alto just a couple of times a year. She actually knows one of the lovers her husband maintains in China.

But obviously sometimes things can become too frustrating and then intolerable for the wife, after so much personal sacrifices, if, for example, the husband wants a formal divorce, cuts off communication, shifts assets away from her, or withdraws financial support. I cannot say it is a reason for this crime. But her anger resembles someone who furiously seeks revenge for having been deeply mistreated or abused for years.

11 people like this
Posted by China Watcher
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2016 at 10:51 am

China Watcher is a registered user.

As someone who has lived in Shanghai, I knew of men who had two families: one legitimate, in the US, and one in China, where the husband lived for six or more months of the year. The husband will allow neither wife to work! Nor will he allow daughters in the US to even babysit!

The two wives usually know about each other, but the husband will encourage them to send gifts to each other!

3 people like this
Posted by goodfriend
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm

[Post removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by SoCruel
a resident of Los Altos
on Oct 13, 2016 at 3:28 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

2 people like this
Posted by safety
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 13, 2016 at 3:34 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

2 people like this
Posted by interesting
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2016 at 3:38 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2016 at 4:36 pm

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2016 at 12:04 am

iSez is a registered user.

@m2grs: How is her being a single mom relevant to the murder? She was angry at her husband so killed his sister?

3 people like this
Posted by Overkill
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

Overkill is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

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