Family and friends of Lucy Xiong gathered Monday evening for a vigil by the canal where her body was recovered and reaffirmed their belief that she was killed.
“She’s gone, never coming back,” Lucy Xiong’s father, Kor Xiong, said to around 30 family members and friends who were gathered to say goodbye to Xiong.
Lucy Xiong disappeared shortly after midnight July 28 as she was talking on her cellphone to her boyfriend. Her body was found about noon Saturday in a central Fresno irrigation canal by a passerby who saw it lodged partly under a canal bridge on the east side of Van Ness Avenue, south of Elizabeth Avenue.
Fresno police confirmed Monday that the body was 20-year-old Xiong. And while her death appears to be an accident, police still don’t know how she ended up in the canal.
The coroner’s officer determined she died from drowning, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference.
“There is no evidence that Lucy Xiong’s death involved foul play,” he said. It appears that she died accidentally, but the case remains under investigation. “We do not know how Lucy Xiong ended up in the canal,” Dyer said.
There are no known witnesses but “we have no reason to believe anyone was involved” in her death, Dyer said.
After Xiong disappeared, a credit card and a debit card from her purse were used illegally several times by four people, including a woman who police recognized in a video surveillance tape, he said. The woman told police she found the purse by the canal.
Dyer said the family wants to believe she was a victim of foul play. Investigators may never have answers to all the questions surrounding her death, he said.
Many who attended Monday night’s vigil were skeptical of the police department’s conclusion that Xiong’s death was an accident. They believe foul play was at work.
“I do believe that someone has to be involved,” said Xou Hang, Lucy’s boyfriend.
Along with Hang, Ace Xiong, Lucy’s uncle, said he wants justice for his family.
“This wasn’t an accident,” he said, “there’s a cause of her death from somebody.”
The crowd that gathered by the canal left flowers and candles and Lucy Xiong’s high school graduation photo.
Kor Xiong thanked “everybody who loves my daughter. My heart hurts, so I don’t know what to do right now. I talk and cry only.”