Minnesota Man Charged with Murder in Strangulation Death of 53-Year-Old Woman in Hotel

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A 25-year-old Twin Cities man is facing charges of murder and manslaughter in connection with the death of a 53-year-old woman last month. According to the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, Philip Jedidiah Wong, of Little Canada, is accused of killing Jianqin Zhang inside an Eagan hotel on Oct. 12. Zhang, from Shanghai City, China, was found dead inside the Microtel Inn & Suites, with the Dakota County Medical Examiner’s Office ruling her death a homicide from strangulation.

The criminal complaint, filed on Oct. 30, states that Zhang was discovered dead on a bed by her friend and a hotel worker. Her friend informed the police that Zhang was a sex worker, and her employers contacted the friend for a welfare check after they hadn’t heard from her for several hours. The friend provided investigators with the phone number of Zhang’s final client, who was identified as Wong. Hotel surveillance footage showed him arriving just before 3 p.m. on Oct. 12 and leaving less than an hour later.

A hotel housekeeper told police that about 40 minutes after Wong left, she entered the room and saw Zhang on the bed before quickly leaving. Investigators found that Zhang had a 15-night reservation at the hotel, and a search of her room yielded various items, including cellphones, condoms, a locked wallet, bloody sheets, pill bottles, food, clothes, and a hat that Wong had been wearing when he entered the hotel.

A search of Zhang’s cellphone uncovered her last outgoing text message, sent to her employers about 10 minutes before Wong left the hotel. Wong admitted to meeting Zhang for “a massage and cuddle,” for which he paid extra for sex. He claimed to have showered and left, forgetting his hat in the process. Wong was arrested and charged with second-degree murder without intent and first-degree manslaughter in late October. If convicted, he faces up to 55 years in prison.