At Sentencing, the Anatomy of a Tribeca Mother's Murder by Her Son

Jared Eng in 2018 and Paula Chin, his mother, in an undated photo. Photos: Instagram (Eng); Facebook (Chin)

Oct. 28, 2022

Stockier, unshaven, and sporting a long ponytail, Jared Eng, now 25, no longer looked like the boyish CUNY student who police arrested in February, 2019, for the gruesome slaying of his mother, Paula Chin, 65, in their Laight Street home. Now sitting motionless in the courtroom on Wednesday, his hands cuffed behind him, he awaited sentencing from Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Maxwell Wiley. Eng, who had claimed his innocence, pleaded guilty last month to repeatedly bludgeoning his mother in the head and cutting her throat. In exchange for the plea, he was charged with a single count of murder in the second degree.

The judge this day would decide whether to sentence Eng to 18 years to life or 22 years to life.

Eng’s lawyer, Joel Cohen, asked for the lesser sentence, saying Eng had been traumatized by the death of his father at age 11, and showed early signs of mental illness. Pediatricians twice diagnosed him with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, and referred him to a psychiatrist. “He never saw that psychiatrist,” Cohen said. “Had he seen that psychiatrist we probably wouldn’t be here.”

On his own behalf, Eng offered no excuses.

“I don’t think I’m worthy of any kind of mercy,” he told the judge. “I acknowledge my actions in my mother’s death, and what happened in no other way can be described besides evil and terrible and horrific.”

“I was quite delusional,” he added, “and I struggled with coming to terms with the fact that I did such a terrible thing.”

Eng had dropped out of SUNY New Paltz the semester before the murder and reportedly had been attending Borough of Manhattan Community College. Since 1980, Chin had lived at 17 Vestry St. in Tribeca where she operated two businesses.

Calling for the maximum sentence, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass laid out in chilling detail how Eng planned, executed and tried to conceal the cold-blooded killing of his mother on the evening of Jan. 30, 2019. “This is literally the anatomy of a murder,” he said. 

Using PowerPoint, Steinglass told the story largely through an incriminating trail of text messages and Facebook Messenger chats between Eng and his girlfriends, Jennifer Lopez and Caitlyn O’Rourke. Both women, according to Steinglass, offered to help with the murder. The two women, whose cases are still pending, are charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.

After the murder, Lopez, along with Eng, allegedly transported the body in the trunk of Chin’s car to the family home in Morristown, NJ. O’Rourke allegedly later returned to the home with them, where they stuffed the body in a garbage bag and removed it to an outside container.

Despite efforts by Eng and Lopez to clean the apartment, Steinglass said, investigators found blood in the kitchen, along with plastic gloves, knives, duct tape and cleaning products.

Motivated, Steinglass said, by a craven desire for the family fortune and by anger over being grounded” when he wanted to visit his girlfriends in Upstate New York, Eng had contemplated various methods to get her out of the way,” as Steinglass put it. In text messages, Steinglass said, he considered putting pills in her coffee machine, cutting the brakes on her bike, or possibly hiring someone to push her off the ledge of a building. In a message to Lopez, he reassured her that if caught, he would be charged with accidental manslaughter, and still inherit everything.

Twelve hours before the murder, according to Steinglass, “He Googles ‘jugular,’ and he tries to locate his mothers life insurance policy.”

“Going to do the thing tonight,” he wrote to Lopez shortly before the killing.

Three hours later, at 10:46 p.m., he texted Lopez to say, “It’s done.Her response, Steinglass said, was to ask if he needed help to hide her body.

“I did it, I’m free,” he boasted to O’Rourke at midnight. “I got rid of my problem.”

Steinglass said Eng manipulated the women with money. Less than four hours after the murder, he said, Eng texted O’Rourke that he has jewelry that he can pawn for cash and assured her that he will take care of her. It’s a promise he also made to Lopez, saying he will build her “the best goddamn future ever.” Later, Steinglass said, he offered to take Lopez shopping with the new lines of credit that he had established, and sent a photo of brokerage accounts that roughly totalled $10 million.

Three days later, with Chin’s corpse trashed on the family’s property, Steinglass said Eng was growing concerned about finding a “more permanent solution” for the body. He searched Amazon for picks and shovels, and Googled “diy bone meal.”  

Eng also Googled how to file a missing persons report and, according to Steinglass, he left messages on his mother’s phone, feigning concern for the victim. Mom, where are you? Call or email or text someone so we know you’re ok,” Eng wrote. In the meantime, Steinglass said, Eng assured Lopez that the case would not reach trial. Theres a system for rich people to skirt the law, he told her. Lopez, Steinglass said, responded that she and ORourke were not rich. “If youre with me,” Eng replied, you think Id only lawyer myself up?

With his mother reported missing, police inspected the apartment. In a message to Lopez, Eng acknowledged that there was a lot of evidence that makes him look guilty. “But without a body,” Steinglass said, “they let him go.

The next day, Eng’s brother Brandon, genuinely concerned about his mother, allowed police to inspect the car. Opening the trunk, with Brandon standing behind them, police found the clothing that Chin had been reported wearing before she disappeared. They also saw what looked like blood. It was then, Steinglass said, that Brandon realized that his brother had been lying and was involved in his mother’s death.

Armed with a search warrant, investigators in Morristown, NJ, searched the family property, where they uncovered the body of Paula Chin.

In his statement to the judge, Eng said he is overwhelmed with guilt, that he has nightmares and flashbacks about that night, that he will always love his mother.

“My mother deserved a much better fate than what she got,” Eng said, his voice breaking with emotion. “She deserved happiness, she deserved grandchildren, but most of all she deserved a better son.”

“The court is not in a position to know if Mr. Eng’s remarks today were sincerely felt. I certainly hope that they are. It would do Mr. Eng well if they were,” the judge said, closing out the hearing. “Nevertheless, the crime calls out for the greater sentence rather than the lesser sentence.”

With that, Wiley condemned the defendant to 22 years to life in state prison.

“Alright, Mr. Eng,” the judge said. “Good luck.”