British Columbia

Gang Yuan dismembered millionaire case: mothers plead for anonymity

The mothers of five children fathered by slain millionaire Gang Yuan claim revealing their identities will place the West Vancouver man's offspring in danger.

Four new women come forward after intense media attention drawn by West Vancouver man's grisly death

Gang Yuan's dismembered body was found at a West Vancouver home. Five women who bore his children are pleading for anonymity in B.C. Supreme Court proceedings concerning his estimated $50 million estate. (Submitted)

Five women who bore children to slain millionaire Gang Yuan claim the West Vancouver man's offspring could be endangered if they are named in paternity suits.

The mothers — four of whom live in China — came forward as a result of international media coverage of the case, including the grisly dismemberment of Yuan's body. The women are pleading for anonymity in B.C. Supreme Court proceedings concerning Yuan's estimated $50 million estate.

"Even though the child is young, he is able to understand a lot of things," wrote the mother of one infant boy, according to an affidavit.

"I am very worried that media exposure will make our lives dangerous. There is a lot of crime against rich people here in China, including robbery, extortion and kidnapping, and we could risk being exposed to those terrible things if our names were published."

Gruesome discovery

Yuan's dismembered body was discovered at a home in the exclusive British Properties residential area on May 2; he was allegedly chopped into 100 pieces.

His cousin's husband, Li Zhao, has been charged with second-degree murder.

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Yuan died without a will, sparking a series of court actions over the fate of his estate, which is being administered by his younger brother, Qiang Yuan.

The millionaire came to Canada in 2007 and made his money through investments in Saskatchewan real estate and agriculture.

Shortly after his death, a Beijing woman won a bid for a DNA test as part of a paternity suit in which she claimed her daughter was Yuan's sole heir. 

She claimed they met in Beijing and had an intense sexual relationship between Las Vegas, Miami and Cancun over several weeks. The woman said Yuan paid for the delivery of the baby in Los Angeles.

According to recently filed court documents, media coverage of that claim led four more women to come forward to say they had also children with Yuan. The oldest is seven years old. 

In an affidavit, Chris Johnson, a lawyer for Yuan's family, claims DNA testing "has confirmed the deceased's paternity of each child."

'Child 4 is in her infancy'

Because the women claim their children are direct descendants of Yuan, they must be given notice of any court applications, but Johnson says they're afraid to be identified in the court proceedings.

He identifies the children as Child 1-5 in his affidavit, which includes excerpts from letters written by the mothers.

"Child 4 is in her infancy, what she needs is a secure environment. The DNA test proved the right for her to inherit her share of the late Gang Yuan's wealth," one mother writes.

"I worry about crime being perpetrated to her, like extortion or robbery or even worse, kidnapping as people want money very much. I do not want the criminal element to get access to our names."

Child 5's mother said she feared publicity would cast a "lasting shadow" on her daughter: "As my child is an heir, people could try to steal from her or extort me for her money. I worry very much for her safety."

Born out of wedlock

The latest court filings include an affidavit from Colin Worth, a threat assessment professional hired to assess the risks of publicity to the mothers and their children.

Worth claimed Yuan supported some or all of the children financially up until his death.

"The children's father cannot protect them," Worth wrote. "He died violently, allegedly at the hands of a relative who has now been charged with murder."

In his affidavit, Johnson notes the potential consequences of identifying the Chinese mothers as women who bore children out of wedlock.

"In Chinese culture discrimination and stigmatization of children born out of wedlock, and of their mothers, is significant," he writes. "This stands in contrast to how, in my experience, things are in Canada."

The application for anonymity will be heard on Sept. 11.