A chef accused of hacking his girlfriend and stepson to death with a meat cleaver was struggling to run a failing family restaurant.
He was also estranged from an ex-wife in another city, and had not seen his daughter since the marriage broke down well before he met his alleged victims.
Wenhao ‘Sam’ Du, 20, and his mother Jifeng ‘Eileen’ Liu, 47, were allegedly butchered in a ‘frenzied attack’ at their home in Brisbane’s south.
Police charged Wei Feng ‘Jack’ Huang, 49, with murdering them in the early hours of last Monday morning, before he changed his clothes and fled the scene at 4.22am.
Wehao ‘Sam’ Liu, 20, was allegedly hacked to death with a meat cleaver alongside his mother Jifeng ‘Eileen’ Liu, 47, in their home in Stretton, in Brisbane’s south, early last Monday morning
Months earlier, Huang and Eileen bought Bann Thai Fusion, a small restaurant on Caxton Street in inner-city Brisbane, in January
He allegedly returned 31 minutes later and called 000 about 9.45am, letting police inside where they discovered the bodies at the top of a bloodied staircase in the two-storey house on Coolidge Court in Stretton.
Months earlier, Huang and Eileen bought Bann Thai Fusion, a small restaurant on Caxton Street in inner-city Brisbane, in January.
The buying price of $15,000 seemed a bargain but by the time of the alleged murders it barely had any customers and they were desperately trying to offload it.
Caxton Street Development Association president Sarosh Mehta said the restaurant had been struggling to attract customers for months and gave up opening during the day.
‘They were definitely struggling, there hadn’t been many customers and the whole street has been doing it tough,’ he said.
Neighbouring businesses said even as patrons returned, Bann Thai was always ‘dead’ and in recent weeks often closed altogether.
Daniel Kreyzig and his Thai wife Mayuree opened the restaurant on NRL Grand Final day on October 3 last year after $40,000 worth of renovations.
Daniel Kreyzig and his Thai wife Mayuree opened the restaurant on NRL Grand Final day on October 3 after $40,000 worth of renovations
Neighbouring businesses said even as patrons returned, Bann Thai was always ‘dead’ and in recent weeks often closed altogether
But within a few months the reality of the cutthroat dining industry set in and the young couple put out an ad to sell their business.
‘It’s was really hard running a restaurant without any money behind me. With the price of everything going up I realised this was not what I was into… we were under a lot of pressure. It sent me broke in the end,’ Mr Kreyzig said.
‘I had to drop $10,000 off the price to sell it to him. I was desperate, I was going to get evicted from my house. He thought it was a bargain.
‘I haven’t slept well all week. Only six months ago I sold my business to them. My heart goes out to [Sam’s] broken father, who will never see the potential of his son.’
Ms Kreyzig spent two weeks training Huang to cook Thai food, which he was not familiar with, before handing over the keys.
She said Huang was quiet, spoke very little English, and was hard to read, but did once open up about his family life.
He told her he used to run a restaurant on the Sunshine Coast until his marriage abruptly ended, and he had no contact with his ex-wife or daughter since.
‘He was working a lot and not home much,’ Ms Kreyzig said Huang told her.
‘He didn’t want his ex-wife to know he was working [at Bann Thai], I went to take a picture of him for the Facebook page but he wouldn’t let me, he said “I don’t want anyone to know”.’
The restaurant sits abandoned days after Huang allegedly murdered his girlfriend and business partner along with her son
Daniel and Mayuree Kreyzig spent two weeks training Huang in the business before he and Eileen took over
Another time Huang arrived for training with his whole arm wrapped in a bandage, saying he burned himself while working at another restaurant.
Ms Kreyzig said Huang never talked about Eileen or Sam and she only found out he had a girlfriend when she arrived with her son on settlement day.
She said Eileen and Huang separately paid $7,500 each to transfer the business ownership, and they never saw them again after that.
This was after Huang put off settlement by six weeks, much to the couple’s frustration.
Mr Kreyzig said he was mystified that Huang and Eileen added numerous Chinese dishes to the menu while still marketing it as a Thai restaurant.
‘Everything he wanted to do was about saving money,’ he said, from the choice of ingredients to cutting corners with preparation.
Those customers who did come through the doors under Huang’s ownership saw a very different side of him to what he is accused of doing to his family.
Glowing reviews paint ‘Jack’ as a ‘lovely’ and hardworking chef who looked after them – but appeared to be running the restaurant all by himself.
‘Good experience chef who served delicious food, although he’s very busy working solo, he still put in his best efforts and smiles to serve the best dishes,’ one read.
Another read: ‘Guys who run the restaurant really friendly (they actually smiled!!). Will definitely come back here again.’
A local food blogger said Bann Thai was one of her favourite haunts, but noted that she and her friends usually had the place to themselves.
‘Jack looks after us very well. He always gives us a large round table near the window,’ she wrote in the since-deleted post just five days before the alleged murders.
‘I always wonder why there are so few people there.
‘Jack is still learning English, so you do need to talk slowly and point to the things you want from the menu. He will look after you very well.’
Sam was studying at TAFE and an apprentice electrician at a local company where he was adored by his colleagues, his father Peiwu Du said
Sam’s father and Eileen’s ex-husband, Peiwu Du, only leaned of their deaths that afternoon from a friend and rushed to the scene about 3pm.
‘I can’t believe it. My boy, my poor boy. Why did they die, why, why could this happen? The police won’t tell me anything,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
An emotional Mr Du said his son was studying at TAFE and working as an apprentice electrician at a local company where he was adored by his colleagues.
‘My boy said he was very happy with his company as his co-workers are very nice and I know they all loved him. He studied very hard, he’s a very gentle person, he works hard every day,’ he said.
Police discovered the bodies at the two-storey house on Coolidge Court in Stretton after Huang called 000 and let them inside hours after their deaths
Eileen, who owns a restaurant in inner-city Brisbane, moved to Australia from Taiwan in 2010
Neighbour Bill McKenny said he often saw Sam studying in his bedroom on the second floor and the family appeared perfectly happy.
‘He’s up there a lot studying, you can tell he works very hard. I never heard them,’ he said.
A high-vis shirt hung on a clothes line over the deck at the back of the family home, believed to be Sam’s work uniform.
‘It’s very strange [what happened]… I can’t really work it out. They kept to themselves so we don’t know what was going on,’ Mr McKenny said.
Another neighbour said Sam was a hard worker around the house too, often mowing the front lawn and doing gardening to help his mother.
Mr Du said he and Eileen married in Taiwan in 1999 and Sam was born in January 2002.
He moved to Australia in 2008 and worked whatever job he could get for two years until he was able to bring Eileen and Sam with him.
Mr Du said he only met Huang once, a year ago with Sam.
He said he accused killer only spoke Cantonese and his English and Mandarin were poor and Sam, who grew up speaking Mandarin, had to talk to him very slowly.
A distraught friend of Sam, who met him a year ago and taught him to drive while he helped her improve her English, laid flowers at the scene on Tuesday
Overcome with emotion she sat under a tree and spoke of her grief at her friend suddenly being killed
A distraught friend of Sam, who met him a year ago and taught him to drive while he helped her improve her English, laid flowers at the scene on Tuesday.
Overcome with emotion she sat under a tree and spoke of her grief at her friend suddenly being killed.
‘He was a shy, gentle boy, with lots of friends and liked to climb mountains [in the national parks]… just a normal boy, how could this happen?’ she said.
Other friends arrived on Monday morning but were too distressed to speak, some collapsing to their knees after lying flowers around the letterbox.
Their deaths shocked the quiet street in an upmarket enclave of southern Brisbane where everyone minds their own business.
The backyard of the home looks like that of any Australian suburban house, frozen in eerie normality just metres from the carnage upstairs
Neighbour Bill McKenny said he often saw Sam studying in his bedroom on the second floor (top left window in this photo) and the family appeared perfectly happy
The backyard of the home looked like that of any Australian suburban house, frozen in eerie normality just metres from the bloodied floors upstairs.
The wooden deck is polished and outfitted with an outdoor table, while a treadmill is folded up near the back door next to a washing machine.
Clothes still hang on the line and on a clotheshorse, the pool is well maintained, and the yard is decorated with pot plants.
Numerous boxes labelled ‘bed sheets’ are stacked around the side of the house.
Huang had a bedside hearing at Princess Alexandria Hospital, phoned in to Brisbane Magistrates’ Court after he was charged with two counts of murder.
He has refused to say a word to investigators since his arrest, other than to demand a lawyer, and said nothing as he was remanded in custody until he next faced court on September 19.
Huang was treated for wounds to his arms and legs that required surgery, which police alleged he accidentally inflicted upon himself during a ‘frenzied’ attack.
‘In the act of using those two implements in the homicide, he has inadvertently caused the injuries to himself… will be our brief to the prosecutor,’ Detective Superintendent Andrew Massingham said.
He said the wounds were not believed to have been caused by anyone else.
Two weapons located by police have been identified as a long-handled kitchen knife and a meat cleaver.
Police are mystified by numerous unanswered questions and appear as stumped as neighbours and friends as the chain of events before the alleged murders.
Superintendent Massingham said police have never been called to the home for domestic violence and there were no orders in place.
A high-vis shirt hung on a clothes line over the deck at the back of the family home, believed to be Sam’s work uniform
Police discovered the bodies at the top of this bloodied staircase after Huang let them into the home
He left the house in the family’s grey Nissan X-trail (pictured) at 4.22am, according to CCTV footage from the home, but where he went is unknow. Anyone who saw it is asked to call police
Investigators are focused on tracing Huang’s actions after the alleged murders, particularly the unexplained 31 minutes.
He left the house in the family’s grey Nissan X-trail at 4.22am, CCTV footage from the home allegedly showed, but where he went is unknow.
Before he left, he allegedly changed his clothes and tried to clean the blood off himself but was not entirely successful.
‘There is some evidence that he has attempted to wash himself and blood his body and has changed into another set of clothes,’ Superintendent Massingham said.
‘It’s quite intriguing as to why then that trip has been made in the motor vehicle at that time.’
Police are canvasing a 15-minute radius from the home, collecting CCTV and asking the public to contact them if they saw the car between 9.22am and 9.53am.
After returning home he waited more than four hours to call 000 before emerging from the front door and letting officers inside when they arrived.
An office chair with a patterned mat lying on it sits in front of the garage with two forensic markers around it and a plastic bottle lying on the ground, where he is believed to have waited for police to arrive.
Superintendent Massingham said the victims were wearing ‘night attire’ when they were discovered by police.
‘We also believe that one of the victims may have had phone contact with a number of friends and family just prior to the [alleged] homicides,’ he said.
‘The exact nature of those phone calls and what has been said is a subject of investigation today.’
The alleged victims have relatives overseas and police have been working with the Chinese community to ‘piece together the complex matter’.
‘We are liaising with our colleagues overseas to provide timely advice to friends and family during this difficult time,’ Superintendant Massingham said.
‘The scene was confronting and has been described as an (alleged) frenzied attack on the two deceased persons.
‘So our forensic officers have been in on a couple of occasions now. The scene is quite traumatic in terms of a large amount of blood that is present.’
Neighbours told Daily Mail Australia they never spoke to the family-of-three since they moved in about a year ago, beyond a wave or polite hello.
An office chair with a patterned mat lying on it sits in front of the garage with two forensic markers around it and a plastic bottle lying on the ground, where he is believed to have waited for police to arrive
Other friends arrived on Monday morning but were too distressed to speak, some collapsing to their knees after lying flowers around the letterbox
The quiet cul-de-sac, named for former US President Calvin Coolidge in what is known as ‘Presidents Estate’ where all the streets are named for one, is quiet and home to many multicultural families.
The home where she died was one of two properties Eileen owned, the other being a three-bedroom house in nearby Runcorn where she once lived with Mr Du.
The former couple also owned an apartment in South Brisbane until they sold it for $560,000 in May 2015.
She bought the Coolidge Court house in February 2008 for $515,000 but in recent years rented it out, unsuccessfully trying to sell it in 2018.