Meng-Ju “Mark” Wu, a 20-year-old former University of Wisconsin student who was charged with a triple homicide in 2003, committed suicide Monday in the Dane County Jail.
Wu was found at about 1 a.m. hanging from a strip of cloth tied to a sprinkler head in his prison cell, according to a release. The cloth may have been from a pillowcase or a sheet.
The deputies who found him while completing a routine security check had last checked on him about an hour earlier. The deputies and the Madison Fire Department paramedics attempted to revive Wu but were unsuccessful.
A family attorney notified Wu’s parents, who live in Taiwan, of their son’s suicide.
According to Verona Police Chief Bernie Coughlin, it is unlikely the case will continue on to trial. The trial had been scheduled for Tuesday and was estimated to last three weeks.
“Obviously the suicide is an unfortunate event,” Coughlin said. “I sympathize with the families of the victims as well as the investigative staff that put in the time and effort for a trial that will not be played out.”
Wu was 19 years old and an international student from Taiwan when he was charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in June 2003. Wu was accused of shooting three roommates: Jason McGuigan, 28; Dustin Wilson, 17; and Daniel Swanson, 25, in a Verona duplex. The shootings had been the first triple homicide in Madison in more than 30 years.
It is suspected the murders had to do with gambling debts between Wu and McGuigan. Wu told police he had lost approximately $15,000 gambling between April and June 2003 and had withdrawn $72,000 from his bank account between December and June.
Dane County district attorneys had gathered extensive evidence against Wu. A gun case with Wu’s fingerprints and a gun that had been used as the murder weapon had been found, as well as a pair of sandals with Wilson’s blood near Wu’s apartment on Gilman Street.
Wu was arrested in New York July 6, 2003, and was transferred to the Dane County Jail Nov. 3, 2003. If convicted, Wu would have been sentenced to life in prison. He was being held on bail for $30 million, a record for Dane County.
An investigation of Wu’s suicide will continue and an autopsy will be scheduled.
“Our investigation is continuing at this time; crime-scene deputies and detectives continue to collect information,” a Dane County release said. “Mr. Wu had a considerable number of documents in his cell, but they have not yet been examined.”
Although the case will not go to trial for criminal charges, it is possible it could go to trial for civil reasons, according to Coughlin.
Coughlin said the prosecution team will contact the families of the three men who were murdered by Wu.
“There’s a desire of the prosecution to meet with those victims to express our condolences as well as assess their well-being,” Coughlin said. “I’m concerned but hopeful they will be able to find some closure with this incident.”