By Michael Morton
Huang Chen, 18, who worked at his family's Ming Garden restaurant on Guy R. Brewer Boulevard was found in Brookville Park the next morning. He was the only son and had two sisters.
The police were still looking for one or two more suspects, City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) told a rally Tuesday near the restaurant that was attended by political leaders from around the borough.
Charles Bryant of 245-39 147th Dr. in Rosedale and Nayquan Miller of 168-24 127th Ave. in Rochdale Village were arrested Saturday and charged with murder, robbery, possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence, DA Richard Brown said.
Miller and Bryant were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court and ordered held without bail, the DA said. If convicted, the two face up to 25 years to life in prison, the DA said. Under the law, the teens were automatically charged as adults.
“The brutal murder of the restaurant delivery boy in Queens is yet another horrific episode in a history of attacks against restaurant and other small business workers,” Liu said in a statement released the day after the murder.
In 2000 five teenagers in St. Albans were arrested and later convicted of robbing and killing the owner of a local Chinese restaurant with a brick after ordering food and having it delivered to an abandoned house. In 1999 two teenage boys in Hollis killed a deliveryman from another Chinese restaurant with a baseball bat after he had brought them their food.
In Chen's case, he was asked to deliver food Friday night to Building 8 in Rochdale Village, a large cooperative complex in South Jamaica, according to a note placed in the door of the building by management to keep residents informed. The note said that when Chen was reported missing at 1:45 a.m. Saturday, the police and Rochdale Village public safety officers responded.
Miller lived in the Rochdale Village apartment where the food was delivered sometime after 10 p.m. Friday, the DA said. Although Brown said Chen pleaded with the boys to take his money and let him leave, they allegedly beat him with a bat and repeatedly stabbed him in the upper torso so he would not be able to identify them, according to the district attorney.
Miller and Bryant then allegedly disposed of evidence of the crime, including bloody clothing, and took Chen's body to nearby Brookville Park, where they dumped the corpse in a pond, the DA said. It was not made clear how they transported the body.
Chen's corpse was discovered Saturday morning at about 8:45 a.m. near Brookville Boulevard and 147th Avenue, police said.
On Sunday the Ming Garden restaurant sat closed, with candles, flowers and a teddy bear placed next to the drawn metal gate. Reached through a back door to the restaurant, a man declined to comment. His family lives in Woodside and were immigrants from Fujian Province in China.
Neither Miller's nor Bryant's families could be reached for comment. But in the entranceway to Building 8 in Rochdale Village, a girl who said she went to school with Miller said she was surprised when she heard he had been arrested.
“He's a nice person,” she said.
Police said Miller had been arrested previously on charges of trespassing, contempt of court and criminal impersonation. They said it did not appear that Bryant had a prior record.
Next door to the shuttered Ming Garden restaurant an employee at a fast-food chicken stand said he had known Chen and his family for many years.
“It's a very nice family, especially this little guy,” Ali Shah said of Chen. “We talked every day.” Shah said Chen was his parents' only son and that Chen's two sisters also worked at Ming Garden.
On Friday, Shah said he closed his shop at around 10 p.m. and then spoke with Chen before the teenager went out on his delivery. Chen wanted to show him a Lexus his father had recently purchased for him, though Chen drove his old brown Mazda over to Rochdale Village, Shah said.
Shah said he thought Chen had been robbed in a separate incident two years ago. A sign in the window of the chicken stand offers free delivery, but Shah said the restaurant recently stopped the service after one of its deliverymen had his legs broken during a robbery. While the chicken stand did not make that many deliveries to begin with, Shah said the service was an important part of business for Chinese restaurants like Ming Garden.
Liu called for the police to bring the killers to justice to “send a strong message that there is no open season on immigrant workers.”
Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.