Lincolnwood restaurant owner charged with strangling pregnant girlfriend to death, hiding body

Apology notes found by detectives after Bilian Fang's body dumped at Stickney water plant, prosecutors say

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team and Maher Kawash WLS logo
Thursday, November 3, 2022
Suburban restaurant owner charged with killing pregnant girlfriend
Lincolnwood restaurant owner Yaer Shen, 46, is charged with murder in the death of his pregnant girlfriend, Bilian Fang, and her unborn child.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A north suburban restaurant owner accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend and his unborn child allegedly wrote several apology notes after her murder.

Yaer Shen, 46, is charged with first-degree murder, intentional homicide of an unborn child and concealment of a homicidal death in connection with the death of Bilian Fang, 40, of Chicago.

Bilian Fang, 40, as seen in a missing person poster distributed by Chicago police.

Prosecutors said Fang was dating Shen and was 8 months pregnant with his child at the time of her murder. She was working at a Lincolnwood restaurant owned by Shen.

In the afternoon on Oct. 9, prosecutors said Shen and Fang got into an argument about money and finances while sitting in his car outside Shen's home. After Shen went inside his home and left Fang in the vehicle, she then went to his front porch and began crying, where Shen's ex-wife found her.

Yaer Shen, 46, is charged with murder in the death of his pregnant girlfriend, Bilian Fang, and her unborn child.
Cook County State's Attorney

Prosecutors said Shen's ex-wife was unaware he was dating Fang or that she was carrying his child.

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Later that evening, Shen was driving with Fang when she called her 14-year-old daughter from Shen's phone around 10:50 p.m. Prosecutors said she had to use Shen's phone because he had broken hers the day after an argument. Fang asked her daughter to ask a friend to pick her up at 36th and California, but when he showed up, he couldn't find her.

Prosecutors said Fang's daughter called Shen back and he told her "she could go if she wanted to" before hanging up. Fang then called her daughter back and again asked for the friend to pick her up at 36th and California. Her daughter told prosecutors she could hear Shen in the background arguing with her mother. Her daughter then called Shen's phone again some time before midnight, but no one answered.

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As Shen and Fang continued to drive, prosecutors said they got into an argument that turned physical and Fang slapped Shen in the face. According to prosecutors, Shen used both of hands to strangle Fang around her neck. He let go briefly while she was still conscious and saw she had visible bruising on her neck and a swollen face.

They continued arguing and Shen became worried she would call police, prosecutors said, so Shen began to strangle her again. At that point, she lost consciousness and Shen attempted to revive her with CPR.

Prosecutors said Shen then drove down Cicero Avenue to dispose of her body in the Stickney water reclamation area, where he covered her body with branches and threw her pink jacket into a wooded area.

Fang's daughter called Shen multiple times the next day to ask where she was, and in each call, he told her to be patient, prosecutors said. They reported her missing on Oct. 10 and informed police that she had last been seen with Shen and was pregnant with his child.

SEE ALSO | Chicago police release surveillance video of pregnant postal worker missing since 2018

Using cell phone data, prosecutors said police traced Shen's location that night and obtained pod camera video of him sitting in a parking lot near a soccer field at Morton College for around 45 minutes before driving toward the Stickney water reclamation area. About two hours later, a license plate reader picked up Shen's vehicle leaving Cicero Avenue.

Prosecutors said police located Fang's body and her pink jacket at the water reclamation area. Inside the jacket, detectives found her ID, keys, cash and a note. The note was handwritten in Cantonese and signed by Shen, prosecutors said. It read, in summary, "I am sorry. I am not a good person. I made you suffer. I got scammed. I know it is irresponsible for me to leave you. I hope we don't meet in another life."

The medical examiner conducted an autopsy on Fang and found the cause and manner of death were multiple blunt force trauma that were consistent with strangulation and homicide, prosecutors said. Burrs that were found on Fang's body were also located in Shen's vehicle on the driver's side floorboard.

Prosecutors said a separate autopsy on the unborn child determined their death was also a homicide and if the baby had been born at the time Fang was killed, the child would have survived.

Prosecutors said Shen was arrested on Nov. 1 and admitted to detectives in Cantonese that he had strangled Fang to death and then hid her body. Detectives said they found a note in his wallet that stated, in summary, "that he had done very bad things, he wanted to kill himself, but couldn't do it, and that he was going to turn himself in, but was afraid to go to prison."

In a search of Shen's home, prosecutors said police also found a letter under his mattress that appeared to be written to his ex-wife. The note said the following in Cantonese, in summary: "In the heat of the moment, I did something wrong. I am regretful that in the heat of the moment, I caused a big mistake."

Shen appeared in bond court Thursday where the judge denied him bail. He's due back in court on Nov. 22, where he faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted.