Cold-blooded killer who choked mother, 21, to death 20 years ago

Cold-blooded killer who choked mother, 21, to death more than 20 years ago will finally face justice after his arrest over assault and police link his DNA to horrific murder

  • Tracy Wylde, 21, was choked to death in at her flat in Barmulloch, Glasgow in November 1997
  • A two and a half year manhunt failed to find her killer, and neither did a 2013 cold case review
  • But when Chinese-born Zhi Min Chen, 44, was arrested for an unrelated alleged assault last summer police found his DNA was a match for the crime
  • He pleaded guilty at the High Court in Glasgow today and faces a life sentence

Zhi Min Chen, 44, choked Tracy Wylde to death at her flat in Barmulloch, Glasgow in November 1997

A fast food shop owner has admitted murdering a woman more than 20 years ago.

Zhi Min Chen, 44, choked Tracy Wylde to death at her flat in Barmulloch, Glasgow in November 1997.

The body of 21 year-old mother, who had been working as a prostitute, was discovered the next morning.

A large scale manhunt to catch the killer – initially lasting two and a half years – proved fruitless.

Chinese born Chen meantime continued to live in Glasgow, getting married and also setting up a takeaway restaurant.

A cold case review in 2013 also brought no joy.

But police struck lucky last summer after Chen was held for an alleged assault in Glasgow’s Cowcaddens.

His DNA matched samples found at the scene at time and the father-of-two was charged with her death.

Chen had been due to stand trial at the High Court in Glasgow but his QC Donald Findlay today told a hearing that Chen was now pleading guilty to the murder charge.

He faces a life sentence when he returns to the dock next month.

Mother Tracy Wylde, 21, who had been working as a prostitute, was murdered in 1997

Members of Tracy’s traumatised family were in court to hear the grim details of her death.

Tracy was described as having a ‘turbulent background’ and had been a sex worker in Glasgow at the time.

She had previously been raised by her grandparents Margaret and Thomas Wylde.

Tracy went on to move into her flat in Torryburn Road, Barmulloch before giving birth to her daughter in August 1994.

On November 23 1997, Tracy had gone into Glasgow city centre that night.

She was last spotted on CCTV around 3.20am the next morning in the city’s red-light area.

Prosecutor Steven Borthwick said it was about 4.40am when neighbour Mary McAnemy heard arguing in Tracy’s flat.

Mr Borthwick: ‘She could not make out what was being said and could only hearing mumbling voices.’

But, the neighbour was then alerted to Tracy yelling for Mary’s mother.

The prosecutor: ‘The argument culminated in Tracy shouting: ‘Sadie, Sadie’.

‘Mary went to investigate…but she could not see into Tracy’s flat.

‘She continued to listen, but could not hear anything further.’

The last thing Mary heard was Tracy’s door being slammed shut and keys being rattled.

This chilling CCTV still shows Tracy Wylde with Zhi Min Chen on the night of her murder in 1997

Friends of Tracy visited that day, but got no reply.

The alarm was raised when she failed to show for an appointment at a support group.

A support group worker visited Tracy’s flat and noticed a balcony door was mysteriously open, then spoke to Mary McAnemy, who managed to get into Tracy’s home.

It was then the pair made the grim discovery of her body.

Mr Borthwick: ‘She was lying on her back with a dressing gown over her body.

‘She was observed to be fully dressed…there were marks and bruising around Tracy’s neck.’

The cause of death was found to be ‘manual strangulation’.

The court heard the initial police probe lasted more than two years.

DNA from an unknown man was found on Tracy’s body and clothes as well as a number of fingerprints in the area.

But, no suspect was found before the investigation was closed.

In 2013, police then carried out a thorough review of unsolved cases, including Tracy’s murder. 

But, Mr Borthwick said: ‘No progress was made in identifying the source of the crime scene DNA and fingerprints.’

It was then in July 2018 that Chen was held for two assaults.

Tracy Wylde came from a ‘turbulent background’, the court heard. Her daughter was just three years old when she was killed

The advocate deputy said: ‘His fingerprints were found as being a match with the unidentified fingerprints from the murder scene.’

Chen was quizzed – but denied any involvement in the killing.

Mr Borthwick: ‘He accepted that he lived in Glasgow at the time and used the services of prostitutes.’

It was not revealed in court how Chen met Tracy that night.

The hearing was told Chen moved to the UK in 1995. He married his Chinese wife in 2004 and went on to have two children. He latterly ran a takeaway restaurant and lived in the city’s Anniesland.

Chen will learn the minimum he will spend behind bars next month.

Lord Arthurson told him: ‘You have been convicted of of a murder of a 21-year-old young woman in her own home.

‘The only sentence that the court can and will pass is that of life imprisonment.’

Tracy’s family were too upset to comment afterwards.

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