Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Instagram
Last Thursday, Christopher Collins called Texas police from a gym and asked them to conduct a welfare check. His wife, Yuanhua Liang, had texted him about an intruder in their house, he claimed, and now he couldn’t reach her.
The 41-year-old husband—a freelance graphic designer and financial adviser, according to his various social media profiles—allegedly told cops he didn’t rush home because Liang could be paranoid at times. When Collins met Harris County deputies at the couple’s residence, they found Liang shot to death in the living room.
Now Collins is charged with her murder, and investigators say he “went to great lengths” to make it look like someone else killed her. According to prosecutors’ statements at a hearing on Thanksgiving morning, Collins told officers that he and Liang didn’t keep guns or “live ammunition.” He also claimed they didn’t have any life insurance.
But authorities searching the property found a document for a $250,000 life insurance policy on a desk. Collins and Liang had signed the paperwork on Nov. 16—just two days before Liang’s alleged murder, ABC13 in Houston reported.
During Thursday’s hearing, prosecutors said Liang’s body was found with a sleep mask on her face and a bag wrapped around her head. They suggested that when an accused killer has a “personal relationship” with their target, they don’t “want to see their face as they die.”
Collins quickly became a suspect, police said, because multiple aspects of his story didn’t add up. They said the couple’s residence didn’t show any signs of an intrusion, and surveillance footage from the gym showed Collins pacing around the facility for 45 minutes, then working out for 5 minutes, after receiving his wife’s urgent text. The video then revealed Collins making a phone call at the gym’s cafe.
The hubby allegedly told officers that his house had security cameras but he didn’t think to check them when his wife complained of an intruder.
Meanwhile, police discovered Liang’s wallet and her cosmetic bag in Collins’ locker at the gym which was opened by a fitness center employee. Before this discovery, Collins had allegedly reported Liang’s pocketbook missing.
Authorities say they also found a .22 caliber live round in Collins’ pocket, and that Liang was shot with a similar small caliber gun.
On Wednesday, deputies with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office re-interviewed Collins before arresting him in connection with Liang’s murder.
Collins wasn’t present for his hearing the next day, Click 2 Houston reported, because he was in the detention facility’s mental health unit. A judge set Collins’ bond at $150,000 and scheduled a followup court appearance for Monday.
A reporter with Click 2 Houston said she spoke to Collins briefly after Liang died but that “he was very upset and asked for privacy.”
At a press briefing last week, Sgt. Ben Beall of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were called to the couple’s house two weeks before the alleged murder, after someone reported a trespasser on their property.
“At this point, it does appear to be a traumatic death,” Beall said. “We are interviewing neighbors and looking for any other witnesses out here.”
Liang, 46, appeared to go by “Kiki” on social media. She and Collins were active on TikTok and Instagram, where they ran accounts dedicated to their dog, Coco, and another handle titled “kikiandchrisyoga,” with a bio that states: “Husband and wife. Doing yoga. Living green. Living healthy. Raising chickens. Love your bodies!”
On Nov. 15, Collins shared his illustration work on TikTok with a caption that read, “Still trying to raise money for the family. Please commission me.” A month earlier, Collins showed off a drawing of his wife designed with a text backdrop that said: “Trust yourself over all.”
The couple also created a GoFundMe page and a site called TheTommyFoundation.com to solicit donations for their kitten, which they said required surgery. “We have fostered and raised over 20 animals in the last 5 years,” the website states, adding, “The website is new and will develop over time as our foundation will to help more and more fur babies around the country. Please consider donating anything you can. All of it helps. Every Penny.”
Another website, DenverTheBear.com, links to Collins’ Instagram account and appears to be a fashion company run by the accused killer. The streetwear page refers to him by the moniker “Slippyninja Collins” and says he’s “an artist from outside of Boston” and “disabled vet and 2x cancer survivor.”
“He has traveled all over the world and bumped elbows with elites all around the globe,” the website states. “He has been a designer for years and is now moving into the designer shoe game.”
Police reports hint that Collins may have experienced recent financial troubles.
After his wife’s fatal shooting, Collins allegedly told detectives that his vehicle had been repossessed and that he was currently driving a rental car.
Liang seemed supportive of Collins in her posts on TikTok including by promoting his Denver The Bear sneaker designs, which Collins advertised as being made in Italy. “Guys my husband released his brand of high end shoes,” she wrote in one March post, with a GIF that declared, “Success Takes Practice.”
One month before, Liang shared a TikTok slideshow that declared, “Ever since my husband got sick, we took on a strict diet.” She detailed their use of intermittent fasting and anti-inflammatory foods and added, “Now he is down 34 pounds and healthy despite the chemo. And the best news is we have seen a 70% reduction in tumor size.”
“Now we move forward. Continue our journey of health,” she wrote. “Thank you all for the support.”
In a January TikTok, Liang wrote, “Up until 2 months ago, I used to exercise. Everyday. Then. My husband got cancer. Everything changed.”
Her caption said: “40’s and our life is just starting. New health. New life.”