Family members wait for upcoming trial on fifth anniversary of Bath Twp. hunter’s death

On Nov. 16, 2018, Chong Yang left home for one of his usual Bath Township hunting trips, and never returned home.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:10 PM EST
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BATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - On Nov. 16, 2018, Chong Yang left home for one of his usual Bath Township hunting trips, and never returned home.

It’s been five years. That’s 60 months, and 1,825 days, with no answers about Yang’s murder. Attorney and extended family member Joseph Yang said, in that time, much has changed for the Yang family, but not the grief they feel at the loss of their husband, father and grandfather.

“A lot of life just continues to go on, and it’s tough because he’s not able to be there to help them, and to see that,” he said.

The day Yang was murdered, he suited up in his hunter’s gear, and left for the Rose Lake Wildlife Area in Bath Township to hunt deer on opening day. Later that night, Yang was found dead with a gunshot wound. At the time, police told News 10 Yang’s shotgun, backpack and traditional Hmong knife were missing.

Yang’s daughter shared her memory of that night with News 10 on the fourth anniversary of Yang’s death, in 2022, saying, “Seven o’clock, eight o’clock rolls around, and [my mom] is blowing us up saying, ‘you don’t understand. Your dad has not called me.’”

Bath Township police were investigating Yang’s death before the case was handed off to the FBI in 2021. Charges against one of the men who was accused of killing Yang were dropped earlier this year; while Thomas Olson, who is charged with murder, is to go on trial in February.

As that day grows closer, Joseph Yang said he’s been guiding the family through an oftentimes complicated legal system, all of them eager to have their questions about their loved one’s death answered.

“Why did this happen?” Yang said. “He was a quiet man. He spoke some English, broken English. I’ve known him my whole life, he was not confrontational at all.”

It’s a tragedy that Yang said has been difficult for his family to cope with, but has driven them to advocate for hunter safety. Yang’s children have jumpstarted a campaign called Orange Justice, through which they continue to share their father’s story, and safety awareness information for hunters across the state.

“They want to make sure that all families, everybody who hunts, that they get to where they’re hunting and get back home to their family,” he said.

Bath Township police were unable to comment on the upcoming trial. The Attorney General’s office is prosecuting the case against Thomas Olson, who’s accused of killing Yang. Olson will face a jury trial in Clinton County on Feb. 13, 2024.

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