After allegedly slitting his mother’s throat in her Tribeca apartment last Thursday, 22-year-old Jared Eng called his girlfriend to ask for help, according to Manhattan prosecutors.
Eng allegedly confessed to his college girlfriend Caitlyn O’Rourke, 21, that his mother, Paula Chin, 65, “took a while to die” before he and another college pal, Jennifer Lopez, 18, could move her body out of the apartment and into Chin’s grey 2004 Toyota Land Cruiser.
Since Eng did not have a driver license, Lopez, whom Eng met at SUNY New Paltz, drove on Jan 31 to the family’s weekend home in Morristown, New Jersey— about an hour outside of the city—where they left Chin’s body inside.
But Eng’s phone call to O’Rourke wasn’t just a confessional. It was a plea for a third set of hands in helping dispose of his mother’s body and hide any evidence after what authorities believe was a mother-son argument over money that ended in an eviction threat and then a murder.
“He stated that he and his mother argued about him moving out,” a prosecutor said at Eng’s arraignment on Thursday.
The next day, according to the criminal complaint and video evidence, the three went back to the suburban Morristown home and put Chin “in a garbage bag” before tossing her body in “an outside garbage container.”
After hiding the body, O'Rourke confessed to authorities, she and Eng used the suburban home’s washing machine to clean clothing brought from the Tribeca home.
“I am in shock and disbelief,” Chin’s other son, Brandon Eng, told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “I can’t believe the last time I saw my mom was the day she died. Honestly, I don’t know what to believe and my family is hoping for some privacy at this time.”
Authorities found Chin's corpse hidden in a curbside garbage pile outside the home on Tuesday after Brandon reported her missing.
All three college pals were charged Wednesday evening with tampering with physical evidence and concealing a human corpse. Prosecutors said in court on Thursday that they believe Eng will be soon charged with murder.
On Thursday morning, Eng was remanded without bail while his girlfriend was held on $50,000 bail and Lopez was given bail of $100,000.
“There is no suggestion that my client had anything to do with a more serious crime,” O’Rourke’s attorney Sarah Kaufmann said Thursday. “This woman is a young person in a terrible situation.”
Attorneys for Eng and Lopez did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Eng allegedly met O’Rouke while enrolled at SUNY New Paltz last year. He attended the school in 2018, a spokesperson for the university confirmed to The Daily Beast on Thursday, before moving into to his mother’s Tribeca apartment.
“This matter is in the hands of the New York Police Department,” the school said. “The college has no further comment on the issue.”
The criminal complaint filed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Thursday further revealed that Eng told police he hadn’t seen his mother since Jan. 31, but admitted to using his mother’s car multiple times to drive back and forth from New Jersey with Lopez.
Prosecutors said he claimed the reason for his trips to the New Jersey home was to retrieve his “antique coin collection,” which he planned to sell for rent money.
Eng, who did admit to having an argument with his mother over living arrangements, repeatedly denied any involvement in his mother death. “I loved my mother. She gave me everything,” Eng said Wednesday night while being escorted by police in lower Manhattan.
Surveillance video reviewed by police showed Lopez pulling into a parking spot outside the Vestry Street apartment, the complaint states, before someone emerged from the building carrying a blood-soaked “duffle bag-like container” and quickly stuffed it inside the car’s trunk.
“It’s all clean,” Lopez allegedly texted O’Rourke following the incident, according to prosecutors. “Honestly the hardest part was backing up the car.”
O’Rourke admitted to police that after a phone call with her boyfriend and Lopez, she agreed to help dispose of the evidence inside the Tribeca and New Jersey homes. It was her idea, she said, to bring the bag of Eng and Chin’s clothes to wash in the suburbs.
Inside the New Jersey home, investigators also found a duffel bag, which was filled with bloody clothes and tape. Blood was additionally found in the Tribeca home underneath what prosecutors called an “unsuccessful crime scene cleanup.”
The car, which was parked outside Chin’s Manhattan apartment, “contained numerous items, including blood on the carpet and blanket,” the complaint said, as well as clothing items that belong to the 65-year-old along with more duct tape.
The Manhattan medical examiner’s office is set to release Chin’s cause of death by early next week, NYPD confirmed to The Daily Beast, and additional charges will be released after that time.