Overview of Fiona Yu
Fiona Yu was a friendly, trusting, and studious student at Arizona State University.
Fiona is described as a sweet girl, who stayed out of trouble, focused on her school work with big aspirations. Fiona worked part-time on campus in the Alumni Association’s gift shop and was a senior at Arizona State University studying accounting at the time of her death. Fiona was mild-mannered, friendly, trusting to a fault, and even a bit naive, according to friends.
“Fiona lived life as well as anyone could expect. She was a petite, mild-mannered person who never looked for trouble, but trouble found her. She is in every sense of the word a true victim.” - Detective Tom Magazzeni.
“She was not about getting into trouble. She was into the books. She was really trying to make it through school. She was a good student. She was always doing homework.” - Chuck Williams, Fiona’s roommate’s friend.
On August 4, 1997, Fiona’s life was taken from her without warning.
She was last seen by a neighbor riding her bicycle sometime between 4:00 pm and 4:30 pm near East Lemon Street and South Terrace in Tempe, AZ near Arizona State University’s campus. She left campus and began traveling to her off-campus apartment at approximately 5:00 pm. Sometime between 5:00 pm and 5:30 pm, Fiona was sexually assaulted and strangled to death inside her apartment on the second floor.
Fiona’s roommate returned to the apartment at 5:15 pm.
Kazo, Fiona’s roommate, stayed on the first floor of the apartment until about 6:00 pm. She decided to go up to the second floor when she began feeling uneasy, like something was wrong. Upstairs, she found Fiona partially clothed, with her pants lowered and her shirt removed. Fiona was hardly alive at this time.
She is immediately transported to Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital in Tempe, AZ, but sadly succumbed to her injuries shortly after arriving. Her autopsy report confirms that her cause of death was strangulation, and that she had been sexually assaulted prior to her death.
Two teenagers are arrested for nearby attacks on women.
In September of 1997, less than a month after Fiona was murdered, 16 year old Derrick Wood and 17 year old Lee Comier Jr. were arrested and charged with attempted murder, burglary, kidnapping, and sexual assault after two other ASU students were attacked on campus only days earlier.
Investigators immediately consider Lee Comier Jr. a suspect in Fiona’s murder, but DNA evidence tested in December of 1997 would confirm that his DNA does not match the DNA found at the crime scene where Fiona was attacked and murdered.
“That’s just one piece of evidence. We don't want to rule him (Comier) out yet as a suspect. We’ll continue to work the case and look at the evidence and see where it takes us.” - Tempe Police Sgt. Toby Dyas.
Where the case stands today.
In 2017, authorities used Snapshot DNA Technology to profile Fiona’s killer, partnering with Parabon NanoLabs. Based on information shared in an Arizona Central article, this “technology uses a DNA sample collected from a crime scene to create a composite image that predicts what a suspect is likely to look like”. The technology gave an image of a hispanic/latino male with black hair, brown or hazel eyes, and a light brown/fair skin complexion.
“I believe that the person who did it knew her.” - Tony Satterwhite, Fiona’s roommate.
Today, it has been more than 25 years since Fiona was brutally attacked and murdered in Tempe, AZ. Her case remains unsolved and is considered to be “cold”, according to authorities. If you have any information, please contact the Tempe Police Department at (480) 250-8311.