Father grapples with guilt after wife arrested in son’s gruesome death
Grief and guilt weighed heavily on Kai Xu as he recounted his wife’s troubling behavior leading up to her arrest this weekend in the tragic drowning death of their 5-year-old son.
He mostly blames himself for believing that leaving his wife alone with their child, Jiandong Xu, when he went to work Friday morning could help her recover from a downward spiral of depression that began in March.
“She loved my son. That’s why I let my son be together with her,” Xu said between sobs from his west Houston home Sunday. “My son could make her better and recover. That was my mistake.”
The toy-packed living room where Xu sat was quiet. He and his 43-year-old wife, Lihui Liu, bought the home in a gated Energy Corridor community after moving to Texas from Singapore in 2012. Soon after, their second child, Jiandong, was born. The white walls of their home were adorned with his crayon doodles.
In the kitchen, bags of groceries — dumplings, kiwis, nuts and bread — Xu had bought his wife went untouched in the wake of her arrest. She has been charged with capital murder and held without bail after Xu made the horrifying find Friday night in their garage.
He returned home from work unable to his son, who stayed home from daycare at Liu’s request. As he searched the house, Liu revealed that their child was in the trash can, according to police. Xu looked inside the bin and found his son’s severed head and body wrapped in a black plastic bag.
After Xu called police, investigators found a blood-spattered bathtub and a bloody knife in the bathroom. Liu refused to talk to police about the decapitation but allegedly told investigators she drowned the child.
Liu is slated to return to court on Thursday. Child Protective Services interacted with the family back in 2015, though the children were never in state custody. It was not immediately known why the agency was involved, or how that involvement ended. Liu, who is now facing an immigration detainer, does not appear to have any prior criminal history in Harris County.
She was being treated for mental health problems after a suicide attempt in August, he said, about a year after she underwent a hysterectomy to remove a mass. She tried drowning herself in a nearby bayou and was rescued, he said. He believes the surgery contributed to her bizarre behavior.
She was prescribed antidepressants from the Harris County Psychiatric Center after she tried to kill herself, but Xu said she refused to take the medication because it left her restless at night and exhausted during the day. He would find her standing outside at odd hours, telling her husband at least once that someone told her to do so.
Xu said she vanished from their home in the middle of the night and was found by police the next morning.
After he sent her on a two-week trip to visit her parents in northeast China, he believed quality time with her children, Jiandong and their 13-year-old daughter, could ease her mind. He said he was alarmed to see that when she returned from China on Nov. 20, she had chopped off her shoulder-length hair. The result of her close crop was visible in a booking photo released Saturday by Houston police.
He worried for Liu as she began her third night at the Harris County Jail.
“I don’t like her because she killed my son. I’m very angry,” he said. “But as her husband, I need to take care of her.”
He hopes she has a warm blanket and is eating. In the weeks before her arrest, she was refusing food, save for the occasional orange he bought her.
“Every morning I wake up, I feel bad. I think I should take care of her. I call police, maybe I need to send her food,” Xu said. “If I don’t send food, in weeks or a month, she will die.”
Over the weekend, he broke the devastating news to his wife’s parents that their grandson had died. Soon after, his heartbroken mother-in-law was rushed to a hospital.
“I told her parents, ‘She killed my son,’ ” Xu said. “Her mother is now in the hospital because she, like her daughter, loved my son.”
He doesn’t have the heart to make the same call to his own parents, who also live in China, fearing that Jiandong’s death could hurt his mother as well.
“My son was very loved. I haven’t told my mother, I think for all my life I won’t tell my her until she dies,” he said.