Sadistic Killer and Rapist Charles Ng

He and a partner tortured, raped, and murdered at least 12 people

Charles Ng

Charles Ng and Leonard Lake rented a remote cabin in the 1980s near Wilseyville, Calif., and built a bunker where they imprisoned women and used them as sex slaves, torturing and murdering them, their husbands, and children. When the spree ended, police connected Ng to 12 murders, but they suspected that the real number was closer to 25.

Ng's Childhood Years

Charles Chi-tat Ng was born in Hong Kong on Dec. 24, 1960, to Kenneth Ng and Oi Ping. He was the youngest of three children and the only boy. His parents were thrilled that their last child was a boy and showered him with attention.

Kenneth was a strict disciplinarian and kept a sharp eye on his son, constantly reminding Charles that a good education was his ticket to success and happiness. But Charles was more interested in martial arts so he could follow in the footsteps of his hero, Bruce Lee.

Charles attended parochial school, and Kenneth expected him to do all his assignments, study hard, and excel in his classes. But Charles was a lazy student and received low grades. Kenneth found his son's attitude unacceptable and got so angry that he beat him with a cane.

Acting Out

At 10, Ng became rebellious and destructive and was caught stealing. He disliked Western children and attacked them when their paths crossed. When he started a fire in a classroom while playing with off-limits chemicals, he was expelled.

Kenneth sent him to boarding school in England, but he was soon expelled for stealing and shoplifting and sent back to Hong Kong. College in the U.S. lasted one semester, after which he was convicted of hit and run driving but, instead of paying restitution, lied on his enlistment application and joined the Marines. In 1981 he was jailed for stealing weapons but escaped before trial and fled to California, where he met Lake and Lake's wife, Claralyn Balazs. He lived with them until Ng and Lake were arrested by the FBI on weapons charges. Ng was convicted and sent to the penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., while Lake made bail and went into hiding at a remote cabin in Wilseyville in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The Ghastly Crimes Begin

After Ng's release from prison three years later, he reunited with Lake at the cabin and they began living out Lake's sadistic, murderous fantasies, killing at least seven men (including Lake's brother), three women, and two babies in 1984 and 1985. Authorities believe the number murdered is much higher.

The spree ended when Ng and Lake were seen shoplifting a bench vise at a lumberyard to replace one they had broken torturing their victims. Ng fled; Lake was stopped in a car registered to one victim with the driver's license of another victim. He was arrested and, during a break in interrogation, committed suicide after writing down his and Ng's real names.

Police continued investigating. They found the cabin in Wilseyville and gruesome evidence of the murders: charred body parts, corpses, bone chips, weapons, videotapes showing sexual abuse and rape, bloody lingerie, and a bed with restraints. They also found Lake's diary, which detailed acts of torture, rape, and murder he and Ng had performed in what he referred to as "Operation Miranda," a fantasy that centered on the end of the world and Lake's desire for sexual slaves.

Investigators also found a bunker built partially into a hillside with a room designed as a cell so whoever was in the room could be watched and heard from an outer room. Complete details of the tapes' contents were never disclosed.

A Long Legal Battle

Ng was charged in the U.S. with 12 counts of murder. He was tracked from San Francisco to Chicago, Detroit, and finally Canada, where he was arrested for robbery and attempted murder committed in that country. After a trial he was imprisoned and, following a six-year, $6.6 million legal battle, was extradited to the U.S. in 1991.

Ng and his lawyers used a variety of legal tactics to delay his trial, but it finally began in October 1998 Orange County, Calif. His defense team presented Ng as an unwilling participant in Lake's sadistic murder spree, but prosecutors introduced cartoons Ng had drawn depicting murder scenes in the Wilseyville cabin in details that a nonparticipant wouldn't have known. They also produced a witness who had been left for dead in the killing spree but survived. The witness said Ng, not Lake, had attempted to kill him.

Fast Decision From the Jury

After years of delays, tons of paperwork, and millions of dollars, Ng's trial ended with guilty verdicts in the murders of six men, three women, and two babies. The jury recommended the death penalty, and the judge imposed it.

As of July 2018, Charles Ng was on death row in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, continuing to appeal his death sentence.

Source: "Justice Denied: The Ng Case" by Joseph Harrington and Robert Burger and "Journey into Darkness" by John E. Douglas