Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

CHARLES NG: CHEATING DEATH

A Simple Theft

Although Charles Ng managed to elude a nationwide manhunt for thirty-four days, his penchant for shoplifting lead to his demise just as it had for Leonard Lake. On Saturday July 6, 1985, two security guards in a "Hudson Bay" store in Calgary approached Ng after he had attempted to leave the store with several grocery items secreted in a backpack. When they challenged him, Ng drew a gun and threatened them. A short scuffle followed, during which, one of the officers was shot in the hand before Ng was overpowered and taken into custody. He was later charged at Calgary Metropolitan Police station with robbery, attempted robbery, possession of a firearm and attempted murder.

As Charles Ng prepared to face the courts, news of his arrest reached the Calaveras Task Force. Any elation at his capture was soon dispelled, however, when John Cosbie, the Canadian Justice Minister, announced that under the terms of a 1976 extradition treaty with the United States, he had refused the request for Ng's extradition as Canada, having abolished capital punishment, would not release any prisoner charged with a capital crime that carried the death penalty.

After the US authorities had recovered from their shock, two San Francisco detectives were sent to interview Ng in his Calgary jail cell. He told them that it was Lake who was responsible for most of the Wilseyville killings but admitted helping to dispose of Paul Cosner's body. Following the interview, the US justice department made a renewed attempt to have Ng extradited but the Canadian authorities refused, as they were about to bring Ng to trial for offenses committed on Canadian soil. He was later tried and convicted on the Calgary shoplifting and assault charges and sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment.

Ng the
Ng the "lawyer" (AP)

As Ng prepared to serve his sentence, the United States Justice Department began what would become a long and protracted battle to extradite Charles Ng. The battle lasted almost six years, during this period Ng spent most of his time studying American law. During the extradition proceedings, evidence was tabled that Ng had drawn several cartoons, which, according to US attorneys, showed details of the Wilseyville killings that only someone with an intimate knowledge of the killings could produce.

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