UNSOLVED: MISSING – Hang Lee, 17, St. Paul, Minnesota, 12th January 1993

UNSOLVED: MISSING – Hang Lee, 17, St. Paul, Minnesota, 12th January 1993

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Missing Persons Bio of Hang Lee

UNSOLVED: MISSING - Hang Lee, 17, St. Paul, Minnesota, 12th January 1993

Name: Hang Lee

DOB: 10th September 1975

Age: 17-years-old when she went missing, Hang would be 45-years-old today.

Ethnicity: Hang is of Hmong/Laotian descent and speaks Hmong and English

Hair colour: Dark brown/black hair, she had dyed red bangs when she went missing.

Eye colour: Brown eyes

Height: 5ft  (1.52m)

Weight: 6st 42oz (90lbs)

Identifying characteristics: At the time of her disappearance, her hair was black with bangs dyed red with a striking smile.

Hometown: McDonough Housing Project, St Paul, Minnesota, USA

Occupation: Highland Park High School Senior, and Barista/Waitress at Wong Café based in Rice Street.

Marital Status: Single

Missing since: 12th January 1993

Length of time missing: 28 years

The clothing she was last seen wearing: A black, lightweight, leather jacket, a black t-shirt with “Skid Row” written on the back, black jeans/slacks, sneakers, costume jewellery that included two silver bracelets.

Last confirmed sighting: Last seen leaving her home by her brother, and travelled with Kia ‘Nikki’ Lee and Mark Steven Wallace.

Vehicle Description: In the passenger seat of Wallace’s white pickup truck (vehicle make not provided), or Wallace’s tan/silver 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier.

Misc Information: None provided.

Case Status: COLD

About Hang Lee

Hang moved to the US as a little girl after her family fled a refugee camp in Laos. They moved to St. Paul, Minnesota where Hang lived in the McDonough Homes project, attended school, and worked up until her disappearance. She was one of 14 children and was described as a sweet, but naïve teenage girl that dreamed of becoming a writer. She loved to read and attended Highland Park High School as a senior at the time of her disappearance. She had plans to attend the University of Minnesota after she graduated, and she also worked part-time alongside her siblings in Wong’s Café, as a Cashier where she earned just $7 an hour. She spoke both Hmong and English when she disappeared without a trace.

UNSOLVED: MISSING - Hang Lee, 17, St. Paul, Minnesota, 12th January 1993

Case Background

Hang Lee’s last confirmed sighting was as she was leaving her home in the McDonough Housing Project, Minnesota between 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. on the 12th of January 1993. She had decided to look for a new job as her role as a Cashier at the Wong Café didn’t pay as well, and she wanted to bring more income into the family home.

Kia ‘Nikki’ Lee (no relation) was also said to have seen Hang and from our research, it looks like she went with Hang, but returned home, alone, shortly thereafter. Nikki has recanted her statements so many times that it’s difficult to know which part of her statements are truthful. She has now refused to cooperate further with the authorities and any questions need to be passed through her appointed attorney.

The authorities initially wrote Hang off as another troubled runaway, but there was nothing in Hang’s life that would lead to the conclusion she was troubled in any way. She was looking forward to attending college after graduating and had plans to write a book on a Hmong’s experience in America. It was only upon speaking to Nikki that they switched tactics to a potential missing person’s case.

When Nikki initially cooperated with the authorities, she told them Hang had left with unidentified male youths. She then changed her story to implicate Mark Wallace and stated that Hang had gone to a job interview with him, Nikki also worked for Mark who owned a small painting, and carpentry business on Iroquois Avenue, at the time of Hang’s disappearance.

It is alleged that Nikki set Hang up with the interview and that she and Hang went to meet Wallace together at a nearby Casino. Nikki stated that Wallace was driving a white pickup truck, then for reasons unknown, she changed the colour and make of the vehicle to a tan or silver 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier. Nikki alleges that Wallace dropped her off and drove away with Hang in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. Wallace had stated he would drive Hang home after her interview, but he later told the police he dropped her off at Rice Street and Wheelock Parkway near her employer, Wong Café.

Nikki worked as a Receptionist for Wallace from December 1992 – March 1993, but she seemed to know very little about Wallace’s business or his dealings when she was interviewed by the police. She stated there was never any customers or other businesspeople, except teenage boys. When the teenage boys would visit the business, they would go into a locked room with Wallace.

Nikki stated that Wallace also took pictures of her and promised her a job as a model with a friend of his, but this friend never surfaced, and she did not know what happened to the pictures taken by Wallace. She also recalled an incident where she was given a drink by Wallace who told her it would keep her from being nauseated by all the paint fumes, she claimed she felt numb and sleepy and remembered waking up on the floor wrapped in a blanket.

Hang’s boss, Eileen Lee (no relation) at the Wong Café in Rice Street was interviewed by KSTP.com and she said that on the night of her disappearance, Hang had called her to let her know she had a job interview elsewhere and couldn’t work her scheduled shift. Eileen stated that her parents couldn’t have raised a sweeter/nicer kid, but that Hang was very naïve. Eileen stated that it was uncharacteristic for Hang to not show up for work, she had been due on shift the next day.

Hang’s parents are refugees from Laos and at the time could not speak English which made communication with authorities more difficult. It was a few days after Hang’s initial disappearance that she was reported missing to the police. She left behind all of her clothing (other than the clothes she was wearing at the time), her college savings, a $100 paycheck, and her purse (which contained a knife and lead ball for personal protection). As she was leaving her home she told her younger brother,

“If I don’t come back, come and look for me.”

Koua, who was 13 at the time of his sister’s disappearance said he went to sleep at 10 p.m. and awoke at 1 a.m., Hang would usually knock on the door of the apartment when she got home and her brother or one of her siblings would let her in, but Koua never heard a knock. When he looked out of the window he saw the snow was coming down pretty hard and there were no footprints from the parking lot. He got up to see if maybe he had missed her or she was on her way but got a horrible feeling that crawled up the back of his neck. He confronted Nikki at the high school they both attended the next day and asked her where his sister was. She said that she didn’t know.

 

Prime Suspect: Mark Wallace

Mark is a convicted rapist with a long history of involvement in several sexually motivated crimes. He was convicted of two very violent rapes that he committed on 31st of March 1987, and 8th of April 1987 in which he threatened the women at knifepoint. One of the women was just 16 years old from Cottage Grove. She had gone with him after the promise of a job interview, he bound, covered her eyes, and gagged her with duct tape before telling her he would kill her and her family while holding a knife to her and raping her.

UNSOLVED: MISSING - Hang Lee, 17, St. Paul, Minnesota, 12th January 1993
Wallace circa 2016. Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

He then planned another rape by breaking into a vehicle and stealing a woman’s personal contact information, those impacted had been notified that their personal information had been stolen.

He then contacted a 22-year-old woman asking her to attend a job interview for a position in the radio industry, but the woman became suspicious knowing her personal information had been stolen. She contacted the police, and they sent an undercover female officer in her place.

Wallace and the undercover officer drove around before they stopped at an office building, and he told her his intentions. He was subsequently arrested, charged, and convicted. He is also suspected to have committed other sexually deprived crimes. It’s unknown if he committed more rapes in the area at that time. Wallace was released from prison in June 1991 under supervision which expired on the 10th of January 1993, just two days before Hang went missing.

Although he’s a prime suspect the authorities just didn’t have enough evidence to charge Wallace with Hang’s disappearance. In 2009 the authorities thought they would have a break in their case when Wallace’s home in Maplewood was foreclosed upon after Wallace didn’t keep up payments on the property. The authorities were given permission to search the property with cadaver dogs and specifically focussed on the garage which had been completed in 2004.

They used a probe to try and draw out smells of decomposition or bone, and the dogs alerted authorities to a potential hit. The authorities were able to get a search warrant to drill into the garage floor, but the dogs didn’t pick anything up the second time around. There has been no leads or evidence since Wallace’s home was searched. They also searched his office, car and pickup truck but found no further evidence.

Wallace got in trouble again when he picked up charges for felony kidnapping. Wallace’s friend gave permission for his daughter to live with Wallace as she had no permanent residence. She was told to do chores around the house as payment for living with Wallace, but the 20-year-old woman soon became a target for verbal and physical abuse at the hands of Wallace. She eventually had a ‘no contact’ order placed on Wallace, but his threats against her and her family kept him tied to her.

UNSOLVED: MISSING - Hang Lee, 17, St. Paul, Minnesota, 12th January 1993

They checked into a motel named the Key Inn, and when management picked up that something wasn’t right between the couple, they called the police and asked for a wellness check to be undertaken to make sure the woman was okay. The police broke down the door of the motel room and found the woman, and Wallace. She initially told the authorities they didn’t understand, and she had to stay with Wallace, but he was arrested and charged. She would later tell authorities that if she didn’t do as he said he would kill her like that other woman and she quoted him as saying,

 

“The woman came into my office and never came out.”

When the 20-year-old woman was found she was malnourished and bruised. Mark was charged with kidnapping, stalking and possession of methamphetamine.

Mark’s son (who we will not name to protect his privacy) commented on a YouTube video of Hang’s case that Mark is now committed to Moose Lake Treatment Facility after being diagnosed with sexual psychopathy and is considered a danger to society based on his criminal history and evidence of domestic violence. His son states he was a horrible father, he was abusive, manipulative and his son now suffers from PTSD, BPD, anxiety, and other mental health conditions because of the abuse. The mother of Mark’s son has also claimed she thought Mark was poisoning her after she became extremely unwell, then when she finally left Mark she made a full recovery from whatever her mystery illness was.

 

Saying Goodbye

On Friday the 7th of April and Saturday the 8th of April 2017, Hang’s family held a spirit release ceremony after Hang had been missing 24 years. They were interviewed by Twin Cities Pioneer Press and Koua Lee, one of Hang’s brothers, said he struggled to acknowledge the fact his sister was dead. Other relatives tried to help convince him it was the right thing to do, and he was quoted as saying, “We hope that releasing her spirit will raise awareness and maybe it will make some people really talk.” It’s been decades since Hang went missing and the family have pleaded with anyone with information to come forward. Sergeant Paul Paulos said the case was still active and they were hoping they will find her one day.

UNSOLVED: MISSING - Hang Lee, 17, St. Paul, Minnesota, 12th January 1993

The family practice Hmong and part of their practices and belief’s are to hold a spirit release ceremony in the aftermath of a funeral. It is said to allow the spirit of the deceased soul to be free for reincarnation into another body.

Hang’s father, Xiong Lee, initially hadn’t wanted a spirit release ceremony to take place until her body was found, but before he, unfortunately, passed without ever knowing what happened to his daughter, he encouraged his son, Koua, to go forward with the ceremony.

If alive today Hang would be 46-years-old. Her mother, Chong Vang, who was 87 at the time of the Pioneer Press interview told the journalist that she forgave whoever hurt her daughter, but begged them to please tell her where Hang’s remains were so she could give her daughter the funeral she deserved.

The police occasionally check Hang’s social security number to see if she is working or it is in use, but since her disappearance, it’s never been used.

 

Important Contacts

St. Paul Police Department telephone numbers: 651-292-3646, 651-291-1111, 651-292-3650

 

Age Progression provided by the Charley Project (aged 36 in the picture)

UNSOLVED: MISSING - Hang Lee, 17, St. Paul, Minnesota, 12th January 1993
Charley Project age progression of Hang Lee, aged 36.

References

The Charley Project: Hang Lee

Have You Seen Us? Hang Lee Missing since January 15th 1993

Reddit: Hang Lee

Twincities.com: Family of Teen Missing from St. Paul for 24 years to hold Spirit Release Ceremony for her

Unidentified.Wikia: Hang Lee

YouTube Video on Hang Lee’s case

 

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