MONROE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS 2) — Did a bad divorce end in murder?

The woman accused of killing her estranged husband with a chemical used to kill rats said she didn’t do it.

Investigators said the crime might have gone unnoticed if not for a quick-thinking nurse.

Tianle Li, 40, is accused of murder in the home she shared with her husband, 39-year-old Xiaoye Wang, and the couple’s 2-year-old son. Li, a chemist at Bristol-Myers Squibb, allegedly used thallium to poison Wang.

The Monroe Township chemist stood calmly in court on Wednesday as the judge spelled out the charges against her, which include first-degree murder, reports CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

“That’s causing the death of Mr. Wang,” Judge Michael Toto said. “That’s murder by poisoning.”

“It’s our allegation that she administered a lethal and massive dose of thallium to the victim and caused his death,” assistant prosecutor Nicholas Seawitch said.

Li’s attorney, Stephen Altman, said his client is innocent.

“At this point, I have to address the bail, $4 million in a murder case – I think it’s excessive considering bail guidelines,” he said.

Investigators said Li gave her husband the highly toxic chemical in December and early January. Believing he was sick with the flu, Wang left home and checked himself into a hospital. Less than two weeks later, he died.

Prosecutors say it was a nurse who thought of testing for the metal, remembering a thallium poisoning case in China.

“Ultimately suspected thallium poisoning, they tested for it, and found it,” Seawitch said. “By the time that it was discovered, it was really too late to treat him.”

“It’s terrible. They had a little kid there, and it’s just terrible what happened,” neighbor Marie Bono told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

Neighbors said that police were called to the home very often and sometimes even more than once a week.

Residents on the upscale Monroe Township street said they didn’t know the couple well, but couldn’t help but notice their rocky marriage.

“Sometimes the window is open. You hear the fighting and the wife’s voice was louder than the husband’s voice,” Prakash Patel said.

Investigators said Li initially lied to them, but neighbors wondered – given all the times police came to the home – how she expected to ever get away with it.

“You would think that doing something pre-planned like this and something where they can find out and connect the dots, I don’t know that it was really well thought out for her to do something like that. She had an opportunity to leave,” Hisham Zahran said.

Li is being held on murder charges and her bail has been set at more than $4 million. The couple’s two-year-old son has been placed in foster care until Li’s family arrives from China.

Prosecutors said they are doing more toxicology tests on Wang that could give them more clues on how the poison was administered.

Shocked something like this could happen? Feel sorry for the small child involved? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Comments (14)
  1. Christine says:

    This victim kept a concubine and was fooling around.
    I have a Chinese husband with many of his friends keep concubines, some with children with them–their wives bore children as well but it’s not good enough to satisfy their male ego–. And all of them live in the U.S. for a long time. Their society is pretty tolerant to this male-egocentric culture. Murder is certainly not justifiable but I also understand what this wife went through. This type of Chinese culture and behavior should be condemned and shouldn’t be torelated.

    1. powerrui says:

      I dont think thats part of Chinese culture. Or maybe I should say it is part of every culture.

      1. Me123 says:

        Who said it’s part of Chinese culture to have concubines? You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. A couple hundred years ago they did, but that was a couple hundred years ago.

    2. Kim says:

      That really sucked… If he was morally sound, he would have felt guilty and killed himself. The alive one should be free. Come on, she is a delicate lady, and how could she assist such an overdose? Look forward to more investigation.

  2. gloria says:

    just read the news frome some chinese media today (delayed report) and came hear by chance. really shocked. feel sorry for the kid.

  3. Helen says:

    Not matter what their story was, if Li is the murder, that’s too terrible and that is not acceptable no matter how badly she was hurt. there are so many ways to solve the marriage issue, but murder is definitely not the one.

  4. Tina says:

    same thing happened years ago in china exactly in the same school that wang used to study in and i read that story when i was in my highschool here in china. Back then, the Internet was not popular, and 1 of the victim’s student had access to the Internet and asked for help from all over the world. it was at that time that thallion was known by the public as a toxic substance to murder.i think she might be partly inspirted by that story. one thing worth mentioning is after a decade, the criminal’s still at large, leaving the victiim disabled and her family broke. weird case, i dont think our stupid government give a damn about it (u can do nothing about it,china’s a capitalist country).well, its understandable though,sometimes desparate wives do crazy things.thinking herself turning 40 and hard to find a decent hubby, as a genius from the best college in china ,how can she tolerate this kinda thing happening??
    err, just my assumption, sigh, poor american chinese,i heard too many stories like this, seems they do not enjoy a happ life out there in the USA.

  5. AL says:

    Amy, there are two sides to every story, and the uneducated have a proclivity to side with the victim w/o taking any regard for the reasons behind the aggressor’s intentions.

    1. Amy says:

      AL, what i said is based on the facts i know, while the uneducated have a proclivity to think they are educated and to think the world goes exactly as how they imagine.

      1. AL says:

        Some severe emotional damage must have been inflicted to warrant a desire for murder. The evidence suggested in the article suggests with high probability that emotion damage was in fact rendered to the resulting murderer.

        I’m not saying murder is an appropriate remedy, but like I said there are two sides to every story.

    2. Sok says:

      Yes, there are two sides to every story. I’m sure that the 9/11 terrorists had their reason for bombing and killing thousands of people.

  6. jennifer says:

    I am not sure if Li killed her husband, but I believe her husband must hurt her badly emotionally. A working mom with baby and divocing husband, I can not imagine how hard her life was.

    It’s a lesson for all the new partents.

    Wish Li’s husband rest in peace.

    1. Amy says:

      Jennifer you can’t take pity on a suspect of a cruel murder by blaming the victim without any evidence. You don’t know how hard the victim’s life was and what you said is hurting his family badly.

    2. Sok says:

      If Li didn’t kill her husband, then how did he get Thallium into his system at such abnormal doses? Are you saying h\is wife just happens to purchase a large amount of thallium and he accidentally ingested it?

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