Man charged with murder, manslaughter for woman’s death at Eagan hotel

A Little Canada man is facing criminal charges in connection to the death of a woman at an Eagan hotel earlier this month.

Court documents state that a hotel employee found 53-year-old Jianqin Zhang dead inside a room just before midnight on Oct. 12. Medical personnel responded but confirmed she was dead.

The hotel employee told police that Zhang was a sex worker and hadn’t responded to the “organization” after she sent a message saying the client had left at 3:39 p.m. That client’s phone number was traced back to 25-year-old Philip Jedidiah Wong.

Wong was charged Monday morning with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.

The charging documents state that surveillance video showed that Wong entered Zhang’s room at 2:54 p.m. wearing an Atlanta Falcons hat and left at 3:48 p.m. Police found a Falcons hat in Zhang’s room, and key card records showed that nobody else accessed the room at any other point until Zhang was found dead.

Police searched Wong’s home the following week and found other clothes that matched what he was seen wearing at the hotel, a criminal complaint states. Additionally, he told officers he’d gone to the hotel for a massage and cuddle after responding to an online advertisement. After the message, he paid the woman extra money to have sex with him, showered and then left, saying he left his hat by mistake because he’s forgetful.

Wong added that he got a call from someone with the “organization” later that night, saying Zhang was dead but he thought it was a scam trying to get more money so he didn’t believe it.

However, a roommate of Wong’s relayed to police that Wong told her Zhang tried to blackmail him after they finished having sex so he “choked her out,” the complaint states. He claimed he thought Zhang was still breathing when he left.

Wong made his first court appearance Monday morning and had his bail set at $750,000 or $250,000 with conditions. His next appearance is scheduled for Nov. 9.

Murder carries a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison while manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.