Stella man convicted in sex case dies in prison

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tong Yang an apparent suicide after 6 months in West Virginia facility

A Stella man sentenced to federal prison for transporting a minor for illicit sex has died of an apparent suicide in West Virginia.

Tong Yang, 46, died on March 23 in Hazelton, W.V. Funeral services are pending at McQueen Funeral Home in Wheaton.

Yang pleaded guilty on May 1, 2014 in Western District County in Springfield to transporting a minor across state lines for illicit sex on Dec. 7, 2013. Yang admitted he contacted a 15-year-old Minnesota girl on Facebook and talked with her about coming to live with him in Missouri. The girl asked Yang to come and get her. Yang admitted driving her to a motel in Neosho, where they engaged in unprotected sex.

Yang was charged in Federal District Court and faced a mandatory sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole and could have faced a life sentence. An investigation was conducted by police departments in Cassville and Neosho and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations' Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Yang was sentenced on Sept. 8, 2014, to 13 years in federal prison without parole.

Yang was housed in the medium security prison at Hazelton, WV. His name was formally released on Tuesday. Yang had been found unresponsive in his cell at approximately 7:21 a.m. on March 23 and declared dead at 8:06 a.m. According to Rachel Thompson, public information officer for the prison, the death has been ruled an apparent suicide, pending an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No other details were available.

According to Kathy Plum, news editor at the nearby Dominion Post newspaper in Morgantown, WV, news from the three prisons in Hazeltown is rare. An altercation at the high security prison between two inmates on March 6 resulted in the death of one of the inmates who had been serving 93 years for murder.

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