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Google engineer beat his wife to death, Santa Clara police say

A suburban house with a white garage, driveway, and an SUV parked outside, under overcast skies.
A Google worker is facing a murder charge for killing his wife at their home on Valley Way in Santa Clara. | Source: Jim Gensheimer for The Standard

A Google worker is facing a murder charge for beating his wife to death this week in an attack that left their bedroom covered in blood, prosecutors say.

Liren Chen, 27, allegedly punched his wife in the head repeatedly at their home on Valley Way in Santa Clara, police said in court records.

While Chen’s wife’s name is redacted in the documents, property records show that Chen was married to Xuanyi Yu and that the couple owned a home at 714 Valley Way.

Santa Clara County’s medical examiner could not confirm whether Yu was the victim in the case as of Friday morning.

Chen was a software engineer at Google who worked on the YouTube Shorts recommendation algorithm, according to a LinkedIn profile under his name. Another LinkedIn profile lists Yu as a software engineer at Google who previously worked at Amazon.

Chen is currently in the hospital awaiting a court hearing and has not been arraigned as of Friday morning. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Prosecutors confirmed that he was a Google employee.

“Domestic violence deaths have been falling in our county but that does not measure the depth and destructiveness of the violence,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “Anyone who feels that they or someone else is being abused by their partners, please reach out to your local law enforcement agency. You are not alone. We can help.”

READ MORE: Google Is Laying Off More Than 700 Bay Area Employees

A Google logo in colorful letters on a glass-walled building, with trees nearby.
A Google worker is facing a murder charge for beating his wife to death this week in an attack that left their bedroom covered in blood, prosecutors say. | Source: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“We will be returning to court each day until Mr. Chen is released from the hospital and able to be personally present for his arraignment,” the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. 

Police found Chen’s wife dead after arriving at the house at 10:55 a.m. Tuesday to conduct a welfare check, court records say. The responding officer saw Chen through the window on his knees, staring blankly with his hands in the air and what appeared to be blood on his clothing.

After entering the home and taking Chen into custody, court records show officers found Yu’s body on the bedroom floor with severe blunt-force injuries to her head. The floor, wall and door of the room were covered in blood spatter.

“Chen’s right hand was extremely swollen and purple,” a police detective wrote. “He had blood on his clothing, his legs, arms, and hands.”

When asked how he hurt his hand, Chen allegedly told first responders, “I punched my wife.” He then indicated that the attack had occurred the day prior.

Chen and Yu purchased their house last April for $2.05 million, according to property records.

Both Chen and Yu attended Tsinghua University in Beijing and the University of California San Diego, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

The news sent a shock wave through the Chinese American community after rumors of the crime started to circulate on social media. Confusion arose because of a different incident involving two dead bodies found in a Los Altos home this week. 

Both major national Chinese-language newspapers, World Journal and Sing Tao, put the false claim of a murder-suicide on their front page Friday, triggering a media frenzy in the Chinese-speaking world, including national media in China.

The Chinese-language reports also highlighted unverified rumors that the crime was in some way related to recent layoffs at Google.

That incorrect initial reporting made its way onto online tech hubs like Blind and Y Combinator’s Hacker News.

Kevin Truong can be reached at kevin@sfstandard.com
Michael Barba can be reached at mbarba@sfstandard.com