Qinxuan Pan, the MIT graduate student sought in connection with the February murder of a Yale student, appeared to be a “totally normal guy” when he arrived at Kitchener Harding’s home in Montgomery, Ala. six weeks ago looking to rent a room in Harding’s 14-bedroom home.
Pan identified himself to Harding and his family as “Henry Cai” and lived quietly in the family’s home until his arrest by the US Marshals Service Friday morning following a months-long search for the fugitive whose last known address was in Malden.
Pan, 30, is charged with the Feb. 6 murder of Yale graduate student Kevin Jiang, 26, who was shot to death in New Haven, Conn., in what police initially believed was a road rage incident.
The Connecticut office of the US Marshals Service, which has been leading the search for Pan, announced his capture around 10 a.m. Friday.
“Once we received information that Pan was in Montgomery, a plan was developed and executed. This is another example of hard work by federal and state partners to arrest violent fugitives,” US Marshal for the Middle District of Alabama Jesse Seroyer Jr. said in a statement.
Jiang, an army veteran, was an active member of New Haven’s Trinity Baptist Church, which issued a statement mourning his killing in February. Jiang was engaged to Zion Perry, a 2020 MIT graduate. The couple met as volunteers at the church and were set to have their wedding officiated by it.
The church, in an e-mail statement Friday, said they were grateful for the efforts of law enforcement.
“We are grateful for the diligent efforts of law enforcement and for the arrest of the suspect. We continue to pray that the truth would be revealed, that justice would be done, and that God would bring healing and comfort to Kevin’s family and loved ones,” the church’s pastors said.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said the city’s thoughts were with Jiang’s family as court proceedings get underway.
“As the process of adjudicating justice will now turn towards the court system our thoughts are with Kevin’s family and friends during what will undoubtedly be a very difficult time for all of them.”
Erin Williams, a 26-year-old Montgomery resident, said she witnessed Pan’s arrest around 6 a.m. Friday morning. Williams said her home on Wilmington Road overlooks the back yard of the home where Pan was apprehended.
She described seeing Pan led out of the home in handcuffs with his feet shackled. The US Marshals escorted him to a police car across the street, stopping traffic.
Pan was taken to the Montgomery County Detention Center after his arrest, the Marshals Service said.
Denethi Wijegunawardana, a friend of Jiang’s who organized a fundraiser in support of his family, recalled him as “the epitome of kindness, humor, humility, discipline, and persistence.”
“Kevin was a shining light and lit up any room he walked into with his bright personality,” Wijegunawardana wrote. “Kevin dedicated his life to volunteering at the church, cooking for the homeless, mentoring young people and touched the lives of those around him everyday. ... Kevin loved to spread joy wherever he went and loved salsa dancing. His friends from New Haven, Yale and the Salsa Club will miss him and his enthusiasm for life.”
Prior to his capture, Pan was last seen driving with family members in the area of Duluth or Brookhaven in Georgia on Feb. 11. The manhunt for Pan expanded worldwide on April 8, when the Marshals Service secured a “red notice” for his capture. Pan is a US citizen who was born in China, the Associated Press reported.
Pan was initially sought for questioning related to Jiang’s killing but the Marshals Service later secured a warrant for his arrest charging him with the murder. He also faces a charge of larceny for stealing an SUV from a Mansfield car dealership.
On Feb. 6, Pan allegedly drove away from the dealership around 11 a.m. with dealer plates attached to the 2015 GMC Terrain SLE he told the dealership’s owner he was interested in buying. Pan then allegedly drove the SUV to Connecticut, where the car became stuck on railroad tracks around 10:45 p.m. that evening. North Haven, Conn. police directed him to a nearby motel after determining the car was inoperable. Pan had disappeared from the motel by the time police searched for him.
John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report.