Castro Valley, CA

27 years ago, gifted teen violist Jenny Lin was killed in her own home. Her case remains unsolved.

Fatim Hemraj

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Jennifer “Jenny” LinFind a Grave

Jennifer “Jenny” Han-chi Lin lived with her parents and older sister in Castro Valley, California. She was a straight-A student who dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. In addition to being a talented dancer and pianist, Jenny was also a gifted violist and the youngest member of the Castro Valley Orchestra. Her loved ones described her as a vibrant girl with a vivacious and easy-going personality. On May 25, 1994, Jenny celebrated her 14th birthday with her family. Two days later, she was gone forever.

Authorities believe Jenny was targeted

On May 27, Jenny’s father, John, returned home from work at 6:45 pm to find his youngest child dead. Her last known contact was a phone conversation she had with a friend at 5:15 pm after she came home from school. Shortly afterward, someone broke into her home through a small downstairs window and attacked her. Authorities believe she was targeted by someone who was familiar with the neighbourhood.

Unfortunately, Jenny's killer was extremely thorough and left no evidence behind. Authorities later referred to her wounds as “deliberate” and “controlled.”

Devastated by their loss, Jenny’s loved ones set up a toll-free hotline, organized a dance fundraiser decorated with blue ribbons, Jenny’s favourite colour, and distributed flyers. Several tips came in but sadly, none led to the arrest of Jenny’s killer.

A man approached Jenny’s father 2 weeks earlier

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This man approached Jenny’s father 2 weeks before her murderJenny Lin Foundation

Shortly after the murder, John remembered a bizarre incident that had occurred just two weeks earlier. A dishevelled man with gaunt features and dark bushy hair approached him in the parking lot of a train station. He claimed he had his daughter and offered him a “deal.”

Since John knew that Jenny was at a viola lesson at the time, he ignored the man and drove away. He later wondered whether the strange man could have been responsible for his daughter’s violent end. A sketch was released to the public but he has never been identified.

In October, a neighbour came forward with another tip. They recalled seeing a stocky man wearing a dark jacket and baseball cap leaving the Lin home the day Jenny was killed. He carried a blue sports bag with red straps and walked towards a nearby athletic field. He too has never been identified and it is unclear whether he is the same man who approached John.

Sebastian Shaw

Sebastian Shaw was born in Vietnam as Chau Quong Ho. After his father beat him badly with a piece of wood, he was sent to California to live with his aunt. A short time later, he joined the Marine Corps. After receiving an honourable discharge, he moved to Portland, Oregon, got a job as a security dispatcher for Paragon Cable and legally changed his name to Sebastian.

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Sebastian ShawMurderpedia

On February 20, 1998, Sebastian was arrested after a discarded cigarette butt linked him to the murders of Jay Rickbeil, Todd Rudiger, and Donna Ferguson. He later claimed he had 13 victims.

In 2006, Sebastian was named the prime suspect in Jenny’s murder. Though there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime, authorities believe he may be the man seen walking away from her home. Sadly, the truth died with him on October 4, 2021, while serving three life sentences at the Oregon State Penitentiary. He was 53-years-old.

The case remains unsolved

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John and Mei-lin with a photo of their beloved daughterCVHS Olympian

Jenny’s loved ones established The Jenny Lin Foundation, a charitable organization that promotes child safety awareness and provides educational scholarships in her honour. Jenny’s parents, John and Mei-lin, host an annual ceremony to spread awareness about her case. If alive, the promising young musician would be 41 today. The case remains unsolved.

A $100,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of Jenny’s killer. Tips can be made anonymously by calling the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office at (510)667–7721 or the Jenny Lin Toll-free Hotline at (885) 4-Jenny-Lin.

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