Family, Palo Alto Police Offer $100K Reward in Cold Case Murder

It's been 23 years to the day since Maria Hsiao was shot and killed outside a Palo Alto nightclub, but her family and investigators hold out hope that someone somewhere will come forward with information needed to finally close the case.

On the night of June 10, 2001, Hsiao was out celebrating her 21st birthday with family and friends. She was shot in the head while standing in a crowd outside the Q Cafe, a former pool hall on Alma Street that is now Patagonia Palo Alto.

Palo Alto Police Capt. Zachary Perron was one of the responding officers on scene. He recalled performing CPR on Hsiao until paramedics from the fire department arrived to take her to the hospital, where she died on the operating table.

To this day, the case continues to perplex those seeking answers, justice and ultimately closure. There is no suspect, she hadn't broken up with anyone prior to the shooting and no information suggests she had been the victim of stalking, Perron confirmed.

Solving the case could come down to an eyewitness finally coming forward with the whole truth, he said, and he and the family hope that 23 years may have changed a person's life enough to make speaking the truth easier.

“Somebody saw something, and that person has not come forward to law enforcement in 23 years, or if they have, they have not been forthcoming about what actually happened,” he said. “Relationships change, right? If you were friends with somebody 23 years ago and covered for them, maybe that allegiance doesn't last 23 years later.”

Hsiao's family and friends, together with the city of Palo Alto, are offering a $100,000 award for anyone who can help close the case. Her sister, Andrea Hsiao, said in an  interview that the peace this information would bring would be priceless.

“Worth all the money in the world to me," she continued. "It would help me to heal so that I can move forward.”

He also said investigators did not suspect Hsiao, who was Asian American, had been the target of a hate crime, and there were no other homicides in the surrounding area at the time that could have suggested a pattern. Before her death, Hsiao was a student at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, studying to become a digital special effects designer

Perron also noted that no surveillance footage was available as cameras weren't installed at the time. He said people who were outside and inside the pool hall when it happened have been interviewed multiple times, yet nothing has taken investigators in any concrete direction.

Aly Brown is a reporter with Bay City News.

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