The Lin FamilyBy RodneyHatfieldJr for Into The Mind
The modest home sits on a peaceful suburban street in picturesque North Epping, New South Wales, Australia. But this house hides a sinister secret. It was a place of mass murder. The sort of bloodbath nightmares are made of. A murder scene that horrified even experienced police officers.
When visitors walked through the front door of the Lin modest home in Epping, they were greeted by a wedding photograph of Min and Lily Lin hanging near the entrance. Trusted family member Lian Bin “Robert” Xie on the night of July 18th, 2009, slipped inside quietly, past the picture of the lives he was about to end, heading straight towards his targets sleeping upstairs.
Min “Norman” Lin, 45, Mr Lin’s wife Yun Li “Lily” Lin, 43, her sister Yun Bin “Irene” Lin, 39, and the two sons Henry, 12, and Terry, 9. Xie used a key to gain access to the home he’d been welcomed into so many times before; he turned to his right and crept quietly up the carpeted stairs to where his victims lay sleeping.
All five family members were bludgeoned to death with an improvised hammer-like implement. Kathy Lin, sister of Min Lin, and her husband Lian Bin "Robert" Xie discovered the bodies when they went to the house at around 9:00 am to see why the newsagency run by the Lin family was not open. After arriving, entering via the unlocked front door, going upstairs and seeing the bloodied rooms and battered bodies, Kathy called for an ambulance and struggled to explain what she had witnessed to the dispatcher. While waiting for the police, Xie left Kathy at the scene to pick up Min Lin's and Kathy Lin's parents, who lived in Merrylands.
When police and rescue arrived, they were shocked. There was blood everywhere. On the victims, on the floors, up the walls —the harsh red of the blood that flowed from vicious wounds on the five victims contrasting strongly with the clean white walls of the well-kept two story home. The first to die was Min and Lily Xie in the first bedroom. Like all the deaths that night, Xie brought his weapon down hard on their heads and faces leaving them in a pool of blood in their bed. The murder weapon was never found, but prosecutors have said it was hammer-like and “assembled for maximum effect to incapacitate and kill.”
The police officers at the scene saw Lily’s face was covered in blood, and she was naked from the waist up. Min was nowhere to be seen. For reasons unknown, Xie returned to the room when the killings were done and arranged then in a “V” like shape, with Min hidden under the covers.
Irene, Lily’s sister, was the next to be found, slumped against a wall with large blood smears on it. She died second, after her sister and brother-in-law. Xie would have crossed the hallway quickly from the master bedroom to begin his assault on Irene. The injuries to the victims faces were so severe that the first responding officers wondered if a shotgun had been used. Such was the violence used they had to be careful where they stepped to avoid the large pools of blood.
While the three adults probably didn’t see Xie coming, there is evidence to suggest the two boys woke up and tried to escape. Possibly Xie killed them because he knew they could identify him. The Supreme Court murder trial heard there was a “furious struggle in that bedroom.”
The proof was in the wounds received and, chillingly, from the way the blood splattered across the walls. The patterns indicated the victims were moving as the lethal blows rained down on them. Mission complete, Xie then left the house, walking down the staircase and —if he came through the front door — through the foyer and outside in the night. The fact that the spare room hadn’t been opened fitted with the prosecution case against Xie. If the killer was someone who knew the house, they reasoned, they would know that this night it was empty.
Brenda Lin, then 15, was the sole member of the immediate family to survive. She was on a year-10 French school trip in New Caledonia with Cheltenham Girls High School at the time, and learned of the murders via Facebook. After the murders, Xie and Kathy Lin became her legal guardians, and they resumed operation of the successful newsagent business. Brenda Lin later said that she had been sexually abused by Xie during this period.
Strike Force Norburn was set-up to coordinate the investigation. 5 May 2011, Xie (then 47) was arrested, following an extensive investigation. On 19 December 2012, he was committed for trial. Xie's trial had been scheduled to begin in September 2013. DNA tests on some evidence were in the process of being completed. Regarding motive, it was revealed that Xie had been an ENT doctor in China before migrating to Melbourne in 2006 and had made an unsuccessful attempt to open a restaurant in Melbourne before relocating to Sydney. He had felt slighted by his loss of status and face when compared to his successful in-laws. He was also attracted sexually to his niece, Brenda Lin.
On 22 July 2013, The Supreme Court delayed the trial until 17 March 2014. This was agreed between the prosecution and the defense, although the newspaper reports were unable to comment on the reasons for the delay. The second trial for the murders began in August 2014, but was abandoned again shortly thereafter in September due to health issues of the trial judge. The third trial commenced in February 2015. Xie, who had been refused bail ahead of the trial, pleaded not guilty. Robert Xie's defense lawyers argued the injuries inflicted upon the family members indicated that the murders were committed by more than one person. On 1 December 2015, after a 9-month trial and 11 days of deliberation, two separate notes from the jury of 12 indicated they were unable to reach a verdict. An agreement still could not be finalized after a direction from presiding Justice Fullerton indicating she would accept a majority verdict of 11 to 1. Fullerton formally discharged the jury on 1 December.The date for a retrial was initially undecided, but then confirmed for August 2016. Xie was granted bail on 8 December 2015. The final trial commenced in Sydney in June 2016. On 12 January 2017, a jury found Xie guilty of five counts of murder. Xie was sentenced on 13 February 2017 to five consecutive life sentences in prison without possibility of parole.