Saipan Fresh Market owner is missing

Police recover businessman’s car abandoned near Obyan Beach

The owner of Saipan Fresh Market in Garapan has been reported missing since Saturday and police recovered his car abandoned near Obyan Beach on Sunday morning, Saipan Tribune learned.

Saipan Fresh Market in Garapan temporarily closed yesterday as its owner, Zhi Yuan Li, (inset) has been reported missing since Saturday afternoon. Police found Li’s Toyota Tacoma pickup truck abandoned near Obyan Beach on Sunday morning. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Saipan Fresh Market in Garapan temporarily closed yesterday as its owner, Zhi Yuan Li, (inset) has been reported missing since Saturday afternoon. Police found Li’s Toyota Tacoma pickup truck abandoned near Obyan Beach on Sunday morning. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Missing businessman Zhi Yuan Li, 43, is the nephew of Hai Ren Li, one of the two Chinese farmers who were murdered and their bodies dumped at the old runway in Koblerville last November.

There is no information yet whether the businessman’s disappearance is connected to the double homicide involving the two Chinese farmers.

As of press time, Department of Public Safety has yet to release information to the media about Li’s disappearance.

In a huge vehicular convoy, over a hundred Chinese businessmen, farmers, and other workers conducted an islandwide search for Li since Saturday afternoon until yesterday. They were the same ones who searched last November for the then-missing two farmers and held a protest rally over the police’s failure to solve murder cases involving Chinese nationals.

Several Chinese nationals, including Li’s relative, told Saipan Tribune that Li was last seen inside his car outside Saipan Fresh Market on Saturday afternoon.

When Li did not return and did not answer his cellphone, family members and friends started searching for him late Saturday afternoon until late at night and reported the matter to the Department of Public Safety.

One of the searchers told Saipan Tribune yesterday that police found Li’s white Toyota Tacoma truck with license plate ACP-898 abandoned at a small road leading to a beach located between Obyan Beach and Ladder Beach.

The searcher, who requested anonymity, said he did not notice any visible damage or bloodstains outside the vehicle.

The searcher said after they learned that Li went missing on Saturday afternoon, they joined together and searched Garapan and its environs until Saturday night.

He said they resumed their search on Sunday morning and, after learning that police had found the car near Obyan Beach, they shifted their search to Obyan Beach, Ladder Beach, As Lito, As Gonno, Kagman and even in Marpi.

The searcher said he heard that family members dialed Li’s cell phone number and the phone at first was ringing, but no one answered. Later, when a family member dialed the phone again, it was already off, he said.

Li’s daughters, ages 13 and 23, are here on Saipan.

Li is already separated from his wife, who stays in China, a family member said.

The daughters were taken to the FBI office yesterday as the FBI is assisting the police in the investigation, according to a businesswoman who accompanied Li’s relative during the search.

Family members opened Fresh Market for a few hours only since Sunday. They posted Li’s photo in front of the store.

The photo has captions in English and Chinese languages that seek the public’s help for information on Li’s whereabouts. It contains few details about Li as well as the phone number to be called for information.

A waiter said Li’s store has been doing good business as it earns $5,000 monthly for supplying their restaurant with vegetables and fruits. The store started as a small business and expanded in the last year or two.

Li’s daughters are usually seen helping the store.

A Chinese businesswoman said they will offer $10,000 cash to anyone who has information that will lead to finding Li. It’s the same businesswoman who also stated last month that she was willing to put up a $10,000 cash reward to anyone who can provide information that will solve the killing of farmers Hai Ren Li and Cheng You Li.

Hai Ren Li and Cheng You Li were last seen in the afternoon of Oct. 31 when they left their respective homes in As Lito and San Antonio to work at their farm in As Gonno between 12pm and 2:30pm.

On Nov. 1, part of a large group of Chinese community that helped in the search found Hai Ren Li’s Toyota Tacoma that was abandoned under some tangan-tangan trees a few steps from the side of Magisa Drive in As Gonno.

Last Feb. 23, the bodies of Guo Huang Xu and his wife, Qing Xiu Zheng, both farmers, were found charred in their house that was burned to the ground. Police classified the case as a double homicide.

On Dec. 8, 2012, couple Jun Li Yang and Jing Liu were found murdered inside their home in San Vicente. Jing Liu was president, treasurer and secretary of a company that was planning to put up a recycling center and apartment rental business.

In March 1995, Zhao Ming Hou and his wife, Yu Hua Huang, who were then owners of Ming-Hua Market in Dandan, were found dead in separate areas in Kagman 3. Prior to the discovery of their bodies, their store was burglarized.

All these double homicides involving Chinese nationals remain unsolved.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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