Wei Miao

Wei Miao

A suspect sought for 29 years in connection with the killing of a man whose body was found off Highway 1 has been extradited from the United Kingdom, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said Saturday.

Wei Miao, now 62, was in custody of the Santa Barbara County Jail on Saturday awaiting arraignment in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on charges stemming from the 1991 homicide. 

On June 9, 1991, the body of Chung Yu Ping, 50, was found in a culvert off Highway 1 in the Las Cruces area south of Buellton.

The victim, a citizen of China, was bludgeoned to death in Los Angeles in June 1991, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office website listing its most wanted cold case suspects.

The victim’s body was discovered “stuffed in a rural culvert” with his head covered with a plastic bag, the Sheriff’s Office said. 

A felony complaint and arrest warrant filed June 28, 1991, accused Miao of murder, and alleges he used a dangerous and deadly weapon, a hammer, to commit the killing. 

Sheriff’s detectives were unable to locate Miao and believed he had fled the country in mid-June 1991.

1991 photo of Wei Miao

1991 photo of Wei Miao.

“When detectives attempted to contact Miao in the Los Angeles area, he fled to Tijuana, Mexico, where he obtained a temporary passport from the Chinese consulate,” the Sheriff’s Office said. 

He reportedly traveled to Mexico City in June 1991, and obtained passage on a merchant ship to London, England. 

“His present whereabouts are unknown, though it is suspected that he may have made his way to Hong Kong, where a family member is reported to own a bakery shop,” the Sheriff’s Office said. 

In 2012, based on information developed by the FBI that Miao might be residing in London, the District Attorney’s Office began the process of requesting his arrest and extradition.

On Aug. 20, 2015, United Kingdom law enforcement officers located and arrested Miao in London.

After protracted court proceedings, his extradition was ordered by the UK High Court on July 1, 2020.  

The District Attorney’s Office received significant assistance from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service’s Extradition Unit, the London Metropolitan Police Service, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

District Attorney’s Office investigators booked Miao into the County Jail, where he was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.  

An arraignment hearing is expected to occur on Monday in Santa Maria Superior Court Department 9.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.