By Jeff Rivenbark - email
CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A man and woman found dead in southwest Utah early Wednesday morning are believed to be connected to the quadruple murders which happened in Catawba County, North Carolina, last week.
Around 2 a.m. (ET), a nationwide alert was issued for the murder suspect's BMW 325.
Seven minutes later, a sheriff's deputy in Washington County, Utah, spotted the car and attempted to stop it on Interstate 15 near the Arizona line.
The deputy chased the vehicle, it hit another car and ran up an embankment. The first car erupted in flames and the sheriff's deputy heard shots fired.
When the deputy approached the vehicle, he discovered the driver, Chiew Chan Saevang, and his female passenger, Yer Yang, were shot to death. Authorities think Saevang shot Yang and then took his own life.
Yang was questioned in Catawba County last week following the quadruple murders. She lived in an apartment in Longview, NC, and was Saevang's girlfriend, the murder suspect wanted in connection with the quadruple murders.
According to court documents, sheriff's deputies served a search warrant at Yang's apartment on Tuesday. Yang is believed to have lived there with her family.
Following the national broadcast of America's Most Wanted this past weekend, authorities received hundreds of tips concerning the quadruple murders. At least two of the tips identified Saevang and Yang as a possible connection to the murders.
Authorities think Yang helped Saevang escape from North Carolina following the murders last Thursday. She apparently traveled separately to Wisconsin and met up with Saevang.
Agents in Wisconsin found the car in which Saevang used to flee the murder scene. They were also able to track down information concerning the new vehicle in which the couple was using to drive to California.
Late Tuesday night, authorities issued a national BOLO (Be On the Look Out) alert for the new vehicle in which Saevang and Yang were driving. They were located in Utah by a Washington County sheriff's deputy.
During a news conference Wednesday morning, Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman said he thought drugs may have been a possible motive for the quadruple murders which happened last week.
Lisa Saephan and her three children, 20-year-old Melanie, 18-year-old Pauline and 4-year-old Cody were killed inside their home. The father, Brian Tzeo, was not at the home when the killings occurred. He was working at his job in Statesville.
A bag of opium or some other controlled substance was reported missing from the house following the killings. Authorities think someone in the home was involved in opium trafficking.
Huffman was unable to say if any charges will be filed against Tzeo.
The sheriff said Saevang had been in trouble in the past in connection with controlled narcotics. Five years ago, he was charged with a federal narcotics violation.
Investigators learned about Saevang and Yang's deaths while authorities were trying to serve warrants on Saevang in connection with the four murders. They intended to charge Yang with assessory after the fact to murder. In addition, both were going to be charged with felony conspiracy to traffic opium.
A visitation for the murdered family members will be held Wednesday afternoon at Jenkins Funeral Home in Newton from 2 - 7 p.m.
Click the red camera icons to see live reports which aired on WBTV Wednesday morning.
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(The following press release is from the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Utah.)
On March 17, 2009, an attempt to locate was broadcast for two homicide suspects out of North Carolina. North Carolina provided information that the vehicle was believed to have entered Utah on Interstate 70 and was headed toward California. The two suspects, a male and a female, were wanted in connection with a quadruple homicide that occurred in that jurisdiction. The ATL advised that the occupants were considered armed and dangerous.
At approximately 11:20 PM, the vehicle was located at about mile marker 26, southbound on Interstate 15, by Washington County Deputy Steve Hatzidakis. Deputy Hatzidakis followed behind the vehicle as other deputies responded to assist in stopping the vehicle. The deputies initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle at about mile marker 17. Within seconds of the deputies initiating the traffic stop, the ATL vehicle struck another vehicle, then drove up an embankment and coming to a stop on the hillside.
The vehicle caught fire soon after the deputies approached it. Both suspects were pulled from the burning vehicle, but they were both deceased. The official cause of death has not been released and the investigation is ongoing at this time.
The initial attempt to locate was broadcast by the Catawba County Sheriff's Office, North Carolina. Officials in North Carolina have been notified. The identities of the suspects have not been confirmed at this time and their names will not be released until it has been confirmed.