A homeless serial criminal accused of murdering an ad creative after following her into her apartment knifed the woman 40 times with one of her own knives – and had a sexual motive for doing so, a court heard.
Assamad Nash was charged with sexually-motivated burglary by prosecutors Monday, as it was revealed his victim Christina Yuan Lee was found topless in the bathtub of her Chinatown apartment Sunday.
The charge suggests a possible motive for the brutal murder, which shocked NYC and raised fresh questions about New York state’s bail reforms, after it was revealed Nash was a serial criminal on bail for robbery when he allegedly killed.
A Manhattan Criminal Court judge approved the district attorney’s request to remand 25-year-old Assamad Nash, who was charged with murdering Lee, 35, and stabbing her more than 40 times inside her bathtub after following her into her building as she got out of a cab in the early hours of Sunday.
He was found bloodied under Lee’s bed with a wound on to his torso and cuts to his hands and shoulder, prosecutors said. A yellow-handled knife was then found behind a dresser in the victim’s bedroom.
‘I didn’t kill nobody,’ Nash said while being led to his arraignment on Monday.
Assistant District Attorney Dafna Yoran said Nash attempted to mislead police from breaking into Lee’s apartment by imitating a woman’s voice.
‘We don’t need the police here – go away,’ Nash told police, according to Yoran, as he set up a blockade inside the apartment before NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit busted the door down, half an hour later.
Nash was remanded in custody after the hearing, and is undergoing psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue hospital
Once inside, police found Lee dead in her bathroom, naked from the waist up.
Nash has three additional open criminal cases – one for assaulting a Brooklyn man, 63-year-old David Elliot, in a subway station.
He has been arrested multiple times for assault, possession of drugs and harassment over the last two years. He was due back in court for the Elliot case next month and is currently being held in Bellevue hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
Elliot, who works at Rutgers University, told The New York Post he was shocked the ‘clearly’ mentally ill Nash was free to roam the streets after attacking him at Grand Central Station.
‘I was watching the news at 5 o’clock, and I seen them taking him out of the apartment and I said, ‘That’s the guy that f***ing hit me!” Elliot said.
‘He shouldn’t have been out on the streets — hell no.’
Assamad Nash, 25, is seen on Monday appearing before a judge charged with the murder in the early hours of Sunday of Christina Yuna Lee, 35
The homeless 25-year-old has a lengthy rap sheet and was out on bail for punching a subway passenger in the face in September
Nash is alleged to have seen Lee getting out of an Uber and followed her into her building, where he barged into her apartment behind her, grabbed a knife from her kitchen, and stabbed her to death in her bathroom
Elliot said he was swiping a friend into the subway when Nash approached him and told him not to do that. Elliot ignored him, and Nash punched him in the face.
‘He came out of nowhere and just hit me,’ Elliot told the paper.
‘I used to box. I had four stitches from that punch. I feel he had something in his hand, like, between his knuckles, because for as many years as I boxed, you don’t get split like that.’
Elliot chased Nash out of the station, and called police when he saw him darting between cars. He later identified him as his attacker.
Elliot said he feels terrible for Lee and her family.
‘Lock these guys up and keep them there. This guy clearly has a lot of mental issues,’ he said.
‘We should just make sure he stays in jail.’
Residents near the victim’s building in Chinatown held a rally on Monday to decry violence against the Asian community.
Lee, 35, was coming home Sunday morning about 4:30 from a night out at a club when Nash spotted her getting out of an Uber, her landlord Brian Chin said.
Security video captured Nash creeping into the building behind Lee, who didn’t notice her stalker had slipped in before the front door had closed behind her.
Nash kept back as the digital producer climbed the six flights to her apartment, Chin said, climbing up one floor below as she went.
He rushed her as she unlocked her apartment door and entered her apartment, police said.
Assamad Nash, 25, is charged with murder of Christina Yuna Lee, who was stabbed to death in her 6th floor apartment. Security video shows Nash, a career criminal, following her into the building and rushing her as she unlocked her apartment door
Nash, 25, has been arrested seven times since 2017 and currently has three open cases in the Manhattan Criminal Court
Nash is driven away by police after being arraigned for murder of Christina Yuna Lee
The career criminal has three additional open cases, including one for assaulting a man in a subway station
Neighbors were awakened Sunday morning to Lee’s blood-curdling screams of ‘Please, help me. Call 911.’
Star Fitz, 21, who lives down the hall said she immediately called police, who were patrolling nearby and arrived instantly.
By then Nash had barricaded himself in the apartment with the fatally wounded Lee, who lay bleeding to death in the bathtub.
Police were forced to saw their way into the unit.
According to reports, it took police 90 minutes to finally enter the apartment.
They found Nash hiding under the bed, the New York Post reported.
Nash was due in court on March 3 for the attack on Elliot.
According to ABC7, he has been arrested at least seven times since 2015, most recently on January 6, 2022.
Christina Yuna Lee, 35, was stabbed to death in her New York City apartment ‘by homeless serial criminal’
Chinatown residents hold photo of Christina Yuna Lee, who was stabbed to death in her apartment on Sunday, during vigil on Monday
Body of Christina Yuna Lee is wheeled out after she was stabbed to death in her apartment
Chilling footage shows the murderer, named as Nash, follow Christina Yuna Lee through the hallway of her Chinatown apartment building
Yuna was found knifed in her bathtub, and couldn’t be saved, with Nash also said to have been discovered hiding under his alleged victims’ bed
According to court records accessed by DailyMail.com, Nash has been arrested four times in the last year alone.
His rap sheet included misdemeanor charges of assault, intentional damage to property, harassment, resisting arrest, both attempted and successful escape from police officers and selling a fare card.
Three of these cases remain open, and he has appeared in court on numerous occasions.
He was set to appear again before a judge on March 9 on the assault, harassment and intentional damage to property charges.
‘This all could have been avoided,’ Lee’s landlord, Brian Chin, told reporters Sunday night.
‘This guy should never have been out of the street. And it’s DA Alvin Bragg playing politics with people’s lives and the Asian community has been hurt.
‘To have a DA who has won those horrific crimes right on his doorstep. And he doesn’t even bother to show up. It’s disgraceful.’
Nash is pictured being arrested following Sunday’s stabbing at victim Christina Yuna Lee’s apartment
Assamad Nash’s lengthy criminal history
Transportation fraud and drug charge
Nash was arrested last September 23 for using an unlimited subway fair card to admit other riders through the turnstile for a fee. An arresting officer allegedly found synthetic cannabinoid in his pocket.
He was charged with the unauthorized sale of certain transportation services, and possession of synthetic phenethylamines and synthetic cannabinoids.
He was released on his own recognizance.
Nash was arrested last September 28 for punching a man with a closed fist, ‘causing redness and swelling’ to the victim’s right eye and ‘substantial pain’.
He was charged with two counts of third-degree assault, one count of second-degree aggravated harassment, attempted assault, and harassment.
He was released on his own recognizance.
Nash was arrested January 6 following a string of 27 MetroCard Vending Machine vandalisms between December 9 and December 31.
He attempted to escape while being arrested and was charged with 27 counts of criminal mischief, one count of attempted escape, escape in the third degree, and resisting arrest.
He was given supervised release.
It is unclear if Nash knew Lee, but according to New York Daily News, investigators recovered surveillance video that shows the suspect following Lee into her building after she was dropped off by a cab.
‘He followed her up all six flights. And she never even knew that he was there,’ Chin said.
‘She walked up six flights of stairs and this man mercilessly stalked her. This was not a crime of mental illness or anything.
‘He stayed one floor below and watched her go up those stairs. And then he moved methodically one flight up at a time. He was absolutely in full control.’
The prior allegations against Nash include the attack on Elliot – but that alleged assault was deemed insufficiently serious to hold him in custody pending trial, thanks to New York’s bail reform laws aimed at lowering the state’s jail population.
‘Our elected officials need to do something much different,’ Chin said.
‘My grandparents are Chinese immigrants that came here trying to build themselves up,’ he added.
‘We built up this community and it’s just getting torn down so fast by one district attorney. It’s heart wrenching.’
Chin said Nash should have been in jail and blamed the policies of Bragg, who has faced harsh criticism for his soft-on-crime approach during his first month in office.
‘This is just so horrific on so many levels,’ Chin said.
‘She did not do anything wrong. She did not deserve this.
‘If this guy got away, I can’t even imagine what would happen,’ he added.
Chinatown residents say that the neighborhood is on edge after the brutal random killing.
They held a rally Monday afternoon calling on politicians to do something about the homelessness and mental health crisis plaguing the city.
‘This is yet another Asian woman killed in her apartment,’ Chinatown activist Jackie Wong said.
‘She did nothing wrong. The only mistake she made was moving to New York to make the city her home.
‘We know the Lee family lost a loved one, and we share their pain.’
Wong said that they do not yet know whether the attack was racially motivated.
‘I don’t want to jump to the conclusion that Christina is also a victim of hate crime because it’s still pending, the investigation,’ Wong said.
‘But this is another Asian-American who was brutally attacked and what’s worse is that she was killed in her own apartment. It just shatters our community.’
Another activist, Mary Wang, told CBS News: ‘How many more people have to die before they change the policy, before they do something?’
Chinatown community organizers held a rally on Monday after the murder of Christina Yuna Lee to raise awareness to the open-air drug use, mental illness, homelessness and Anti-Asian violence that have plagued the neighborhood
Lee’s apartment at 111 Chrystie Street is a block over from the Bowery, which is known for its cluster of food pantries and homeless shelters.
To highlight the trouble in the community, community organizers handing out maps showing the locations of five homeless shelters in the neighborhood with three more planned to be added to the area.
‘Now all of a sudden on top of those five shelters they are dumping three more,’ Chinatown activist Jackie Wong said at the rally.
‘We’re like enough is really enough. That’s why we we are having problems.’
Across the street from her building Sara Roosevelt Park, has been a hot bed of street crime, homelessness and open-air drug use.
K. Webster, the president of the Sara Roosevelt Park Coalition, said that the homeless have been around the neighborhood for decades, but there has been an influx of mentally ill homeless that have created a new danger in the neighborhood.
‘We have homeless people who help,’ she said.
‘We have homeless people who stopped a rape. We have homeless people who have who found the guy who assaulted a woman, who helped the police find the culprit.
‘So we have had homeless people and that is one category and then we have people who are mentally ill. You can’t have mentally ill people running around the streets.’
Chin told reporters that building has cameras on every floor, and that his family had installed steel doors on all the apartments.
‘We have such tight security in this building we have steel doors,’ Chin said. ‘It took a swat team over 10 minutes to gain access. These doors are designed to keep monsters out.’
But the suspect still found his way in.
‘She got out of a cab right here and he followed her,’ Chin said.
‘He grabbed the front door just before it closed. He followed her all the way up, hanging back, staying one floor behind her all the way up to the sixth floor. Then, he waited until her door was just about closed and he went in.’
Chin described Lee as a ‘wonderful human being’ whose ‘smile lit up the room.’
‘She came to the city for the lure of New York, you know, like the Big Apple, the big city, you know, boundless opportunities,’ he said.
Protester attends rally decrying violence against Asians after murder in Chinatown
According to Lee’s website and LinkedIn page, she’s a New York-based creative producer dealing in national-scale marketing content for select names like Google, Twix, Equinox, TOMS, Cole Haan and ALDO.
‘So much blood. My wife said I should call someone to clean all the blood but I’m going to clean it up myself. It’s the least I can do for that poor girl,’ the building’s owner said.
‘She’s from New Jersey, been here less than a year,’ Chin told The Post. ‘Such a sweet girl.
Another neighbor, Zyana Salazar, 27, told DailyMail.com: ‘I just feel like he shouldn’t been out.
‘He was been let out with no bail.
‘You know, this is why that happened.’
New York Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was in mourning.
‘We have seen far too many acts of violence against AAPI New Yorkers in recent months. We must make sure every community is safe in our state.
‘I join New Yorkers standing together in support of our AAPI friends & neighbors.’
New York Mayor Eric Adams similarly condemned the murder.
‘I and New Yorkers across the city mourn for the innocent woman murdered in her home last night in Chinatown and stand with our Asian brothers and sisters today,’ Adams said in a statement on Sunday.
‘The NYPD is investigating this horrific incident, and I thank them for apprehending the suspect. While the suspect who committed this heinous act is now in custody, the conditions that created him remain. The mission of this administration is clear: We won’t let this violence go unchecked.’
Crime in the city has continued to spike, with overall crime having increased 41.65 percent, robbery up nearly 35 percent, and violent felonies up 13.3 percent through February 6 from the same time last year.
Meanwhile, nearly every police precinct in New York City has reported spikes in crime this year – including five in which the rate has doubled, new data from the New York Police Department shows.
‘No neighborhood is safe,’ one Brooklyn cop told The New York Post on Tuesday, offering a grim forecast for the future of the crime-ravaged city.
‘At this rate, we will lose the city by St. Patrick’s Day.’
PERCENT INCREASES IN CRIME FOR ALL PRECINCTS
1st Precinct – 75%
5th Precinct – 51.67%
6th Precinct – 67.71%
7th Precinct – 75.38%
9th Precinct – 53.7%
10th Precinct – 29.89%
13th Precinct – 55%
Midtown South Precinct – 48.98%
17th Precinct – 91.07%
Midtown North Precinct – 44.78%
19th Precinct – 32.56%
20th Precinct – 26.32%
Central Park Precinct – No change
23rd Precinct – 12.62%
24th Precinct – 52.63%
25th Precinct – 29.55%
60th Precinct – 4.55%
61st Precinct – 36.19%
62nd Precinct – 65.88%
63rd Precinct – 37.84%
66th Precinct – 44.44%
67th Precinct – 58.04%
68th Precinct – 26.87%
69th Precinct – 105%
70th Precinct – 39.25%
71st Precinct – 30.49%
72nd Precinct – 107.14%
76th Precinct – 60.71%
78th Precinct – 23.19%
73rd Precinct – 35.66%
75th Precinct – 40.07%
77th Precinct – 62.16%
79th Precinct – 4.96% (decrease)
81st Precinct – 19.15%
83rd Precinct – 9.74% (decrease)
84th Precinct – 27.96%
88th Precinct – 21.43%
90th Precinct – 45.05%
94th Precinct – 28.57%
100th Precinct – 66.67%
101st Precinct – No Change
102nd Precinct – 39.78%
103rd Precinct – 67.44%
105th Precinct – 8.66%
106th Precinct – 67.68%
107th Precinct – 118.06%
113th Precinct – 5.31%
104th Precinct – 29.75%
108th Precinct – 53.47%
109th Precinct – 82.61%
110th Precinct – 142.42%
111th Precinct – 73.44%
112th Precinct – 35.09%
114th Precinct – 18.79%
115th Precinct – 56.89%
Bronx & Staten Island
40th Precinct – 20.41%
41st Precinct – 71.95%
42nd Precinct – 20.75%
43rd Precinct – 75%
44th Precinct – 27.59%
45th Precinct – 31.68%
46th Precinct – 43.95%
47th Precinct – 30.91%
48th Precinct – 51.97%
49th Precinct – 51.64%
50th Precinct – 77.92%
52nd Precinct – 9.6%
120th Precinct – 55.38%
121st Precinct – 31.88%
122nd Precinct – 13.51% (decrease)
123rd Precinct – 39.2