What to Know About the Murder of Christina Yuna Lee

A woman holds up a photo of Christina Yuna Lee

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The case has put the spotlight back on anti-Asian violence.

The chilling murder of Christina Yuna Lee, who was stalked and stabbed repeatedly in her New York City apartment, has the Asian-American community back on edge. Here’s a look at this tragic case.

What happened to Christina Yuna Lee?

Surveillance video shows a man following Lee, 35, into her Chinatown apartment building early Sunday morning. The man, identified by police as Assamad Nash, 25, followed her up six flights of stairs, forced his way into her home, and stabbed her. Neighbors called authorities when they heard screaming, which one resident said “sounded like something out of a movie.” 

Nash had barricaded himself inside, preventing police from entering the apartment. Lee could be heard calling for help, but “then she went quiet,” prosecutors said. When authorities eventually broke down the door, they found Lee dead in her bathtub with more than 40 stab wounds. Nash was found hiding under a bed.

What is happening with Christina Yuna Lee‘s killer, Assamad Nash?

Nash was arraigned on first-degree charges of murder, burglary, and sexually motivated burglary. He was ordered held without bail and faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. Nash pled not guilty, and proclaimed he was innocent Monday. 

“I didn’t kill anyone,” he said while in handcuffs. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

Nash is currently homeless and has been arrested several times since 2015 for assault, burglary, and drug possession. The case has reignited the debate over bail reform in the state. Nash was arrested last month for disabling ticket machines at subway stations and then attempting to escape from a police van after his arrest, but prosecutors didn’t request Nash be held. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams called for policymakers to “close the loopholes that allow dangerous people to be on the streets.”

Who is Christina Yuna Lee?

The 35-year-old worked as a creative producer at Splice, an online music platform. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2008, and according to her colleagues was passionate about fighting the wave of anti-Asian hate crimes that emerged during the pandemic. 

Kenneth Takanami Herman wrote in a tribute that he and Lee had bonded at work after the Atlanta spa shootings, in which six Asian women were killed. “Christina was irreplaceable. Heartbroken or devastated doesn’t begin to cover it,” he wrote. “‘Now what?’ is the question that keeps ringing — what do we do as a community?”

How has the Asian-American community responded?

Though police haven’t designated the murder a hate crime, the incident is the latest in a string of seemingly random attacks on people of Asian descent in New York City. Last month, Michelle Alyssa Go, a 40-year-old Asian-American woman, was pushed in front of a subway and killed while waiting for a train at Times Square. According to the NYPD, anti-Asian attacks have increased 361 percent from the year before in the city, and have risen nationally as well through the pandemic. 

At vigils held for Lee this week in Chinatown, community organizers expressed their concern about the rise in anti-Asian violence. “We as Asian women are walking around in the level of fear that we have never had to before in my entire life in New York City,” said Julie Won, a New York City council member. “This is not acceptable.”

“The list is getting longer and longer,” another mourner said. “We can’t see an end.”