Who killed an art student outside the Palo Alto nightclub? Police hope to solve 21-year-old cold case

Maria Hsiao was killed outside a Palo Alto nightclub in June 2001. Photo: Palo Alto Police

It has been 21 years since 21-year-old Maria Hsiao was shot in the head outside a downtown nightclub, and as she does every summer, police are asking the public to help him solve this “open wound” for the community of Palo Alto.

Police released a 10-minute video on Friday calling on anyone with information about who killed Hsiao outside the Q Cafe nightclub in June 2001 to speak up, and for others to share his story on their social networks.

“No one has forgotten Maria,” Lt. Zach Perron said on the video.

Her sister, Andrea Hsiao, said in the video that all they were trying to do was have a good night together to celebrate a birthday and seeing her sister killed was something she never expected. His sister had no known enemies. She wasn’t in a gang. She wasn’t drunk.

Hsiao was studying at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to become a digital special effects designer.

The two sisters had gone out with three friends.

One, Michelle Mah, said Hsiao had “the kindest heart I’ve ever known.”

Her father, David Hsiao, said calmly, “I would like them to find the killer.

Perron narrates the video, first posted in 2015, and he described performing CPR on Hsiao to the hospital as he climbed inside the ambulance with her.

“We did everything we could to save his life that night,” Perron said. “But unfortunately that wasn’t enough.”

She died on the operating table.

Hsiao’s death is one of three unsolved homicides in Palo Alto. The other two had no one who saw what happened; That of Hsiao is the only one to have witnesses.

Perron said spreading the word every year could jog the memories of the nearly two dozen people who were outside the club at the time.

“Someone has knowledge that they haven’t shared with us yet,” Perron said. “And they know who fired that shot. Whoever has that information has had that information pent up in them since June 2001.”

The murder weapon was never found.

There is a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.

Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tipsters can also call the Detective Bureau during business hours at 650-329-2597

Kayleen C. Rice