Suspect in girlfriend’s murder kills himself in Northern California jail hours after arrest, authorities say

A man in a jail booking photo
Nelson Chia, 73, was arrested Friday on suspicion of orchestrating the killing of Lili Xu, 60, his girlfriend, in “what appears to be a murder for hire,” Oakland police said.
(Alameda County Sheriff’s Office)

A 73-year-old man who was arrested Friday on suspicion of orchestrating his girlfriend’s murder killed himself in a Northern California jail, authorities said.

Nelson Chia of Oakland was arrested more than two months after Lili Xu, 60, was shot and killed in the city’s Little Saigon neighborhood.

Chia was booked around 2 p.m. into Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, east of Oakland, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said Friday evening. He was placed in a single-person holding cell as he awaited processing and assignment to a housing unit.


“When deputies conducted a routine observation check of Chia, they noticed he was motionless and unresponsive,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Jail medical staff and other medical personnel responded to the cell but could not revive Chia.

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Oct. 29, 2022

“It appears Chia took his own life in the single-occupant holding cell,” the department said. “There are no indications of foul play or any other suspicious activities.”

The Sheriff’s Office did not say what time Chia was found or how it appeared he died.

The incident is under investigation, and the Oakland Police Department and California Department of Justice were notified.

Chia was expected to be charged Monday with murder with the special circumstance of murder for financial gain, Alameda County Dist. Atty. Nancy O’Malley said at a news conference around 2:30 p.m. Friday.


It did not appear that O’Malley or Oakland Police Chief LeRonne L. Armstrong knew of Chia’s death during the conference.

Investigators found “substantial evidence” that Chia had arranged Xu’s killing in “what appears to be a murder for hire,” Armstrong said. He did not provide further details.

Hasheem Bason, 33, of Stockton was also arrested Friday and was expected to face the same charges as Chia, O’Malley said. He could face an additional special circumstance of lying in wait.

The officer, identified as Lorenzo Morgan, told dispatchers he had accidentally shot himself and was on the side of the road in his vehicle in Oro Grande.

Oct. 28, 2022

Xu was exiting her vehicle in Little Saigon on Aug. 21 when another car pulled up alongside her, investigators said. Someone got out of the second car and shot Xu multiple times. She died after being taken to a hospital.

Surveillance footage of the shooting showed investigators that something was “off about the way it happened,” Armstrong said.

“This did not seem to be the typical robbery-related homicide,” he said. “It wasn’t normal for what we would expect in a situation like this.”

Armstrong and O’Malley shared few additional details about the case, and they declined to answer questions about a potential motive or how Chia and Bason were associated.