A married couple apprehended in Beijing last month after officers found the mutilated body of the wife’s father at the family’s San Francisco home, made their first court appearances on Monday.
Stephanie Ching, 35, and Douglas Lomas, 44, have both been charged with murder for the death of 73-year-old Benedict Ching, whose severed head and other body parts were found inside the home’s refrigerator on May 20. That same day, the pair and their two young children hopped on a flight to Beijing, where FBI agents arrested the pair and brought them to Virginia. Stephanie Ching and Lomas were then extradited back to San Francisco on Friday, according to jail records.
During their Monday arraignment, both Stephanie Ching and Lomas did not enter pleas and the matter was rescheduled for Thursday. Outside of court, Stephanie Ching’s attorney said that, despite the allegations:
“Ms. Ching, from what I know of her, is a very caring, pleasant, soft-spoken, seemingly kind person, born and raised in San Francisco. We’ll get to the bottom of this but at this point and time, I think it’s very clear that nothing has been presented to show her guilt.”
According to court documents, the investigation into Ching’s disappearance began on May 19, when Benedict Ching’s employer became concerned that he hadn’t shown up to work since May 15.
Accompanied by Benedict Ching’s other daughter, Benedict Ching’s boss then went to check on him at the home where he lived with his daughter Stephanie Ching, Lomas and the couple’s children, located in the 100 block of Del Monte Street.
Once at the house, Lomas cracked the door slightly and refused to let the pair in, saying that the family was sick. He also told them that Benedict Ching had left earlier that day, although his vehicle was parked in front of the home.
After leaving the home, both tried contacting Benedict Ching and Stephanie Ching, to no avail.
The following day, an officer arrived at the home with Benedict Ching’s other daughter, who had a spare key, to conduct a welfare check. Inside, the officer found the home in disarray, court documents said. The officer went in the home’s bathroom and noticed plastic and cardboard lining the walls of the bathtub, which contained an unknown red liquid and a circular saw. Additionally, the toilet contained “unknown biological matter,” according to court documents.
Police then obtained a search warrant and when they returned later that day, investigators found Ching’s severed head and other body parts inside the refrigerator.
They also found traces of human blood in the bathtub and on the saw inside the bathtub, according to court documents.
Additionally, investigators found more plastic sheeting, rolls of duct tape, latex gloves and other tools, court documents said. That same day, Stephanie Ching and Lomas boarded a flight to China with their two children, where they were arrested upon arriving in Beijing, police said.
Both Stephanie Ching and Lomas remain in custody without bail.