Social club murder still unsolved

Businessman killed during robbery

Portland police are still trying to solve a 16-year-old murder in an Old Town Chinese social club, despite numerous eye witnesses and evidence left behind at the scene of the crime.

The killing happened on Sept. 15, 1995, after a group of friends gathered for a game of cards.

'The victim's name was Bing Wun Joe and he was a 61-year-old Chinese-American man,' says retired Det. Mike Stahlman.

Bing Joe was a successful restaurant owner from St. Helens. Cold Case Homicide Unit investigators say he was a regular patron of the Bing Kung Tong club at 20 N.W. Fourth Ave., near Burnside Street.

Fox 12 reporter Nicole Doll has spent weeks talking to Portland police Cold Case Division detectives about their unsolved cases and going through the files. Her stories are being run every Thursday on the 10 O'clock News in hopes the public can help solve them. This story was broadcast on Nov. 10.

Police say that about 1:20 a.m., eight people were playing pinochle and pai gow - a Chinese poker game - when two young men arrived. Someone in the club buzzed them in and they began playing cards. Police say those in the club either recognized them or did not consider them a threat. A short time later, two more young men arrived. One of them had a backpack.

'And as soon as they got in, the second two men pulled guns out of the backpack. The other two men who were already in there joined them. They ordered all of the patrons onto the floor and said they were going to rob them,' says Stahlman.

'The witnesses said that Mr. Joe made kind of an innocuous comment, like go ahead and take my money or something. Not arguing, not fighting, not doing anything. Just leave me alone. And one of them just shot him, according to the witnesses,' says Stahlman,

Investigators say Bing Joe died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Witnesses said the suspects were Asian, likely Vietnamese, all about 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-8, weighing 135 to 150 pounds. Crime scene photos also show the backpack and distinctive clothing police say the suspects dropped as they ran from the club.

Despite the good descriptions and evidence left behind, no arrests have been made. Interpreters have been used to talk to witnesses, but investigators say immigrant communities are notoriously tight-lipped.

Still, they insist someone has information that could solve the case.

'With four suspects, you can assume that there a number of people out there who know. That among those four people, they have talked. They rationalize it. 'I'm a good person. I know what my motives were. I didn't mean for it to happen. What good would it do to come forward now?' ' says Stahlman.

If you have any information about the case, call Crime Stoppers at 503-823-help (4357). A $1,000 reward is available and you can remain anonymous.

On next week's Fox 12's Most Wanted Cold Case Homicide Unit series, the 1996 murder of a Jefferson High School student. Why police say this may be a case of mistaken identity.