Shen Jia-wun In ‘Copycat Killer,’ Explained: Did He Really Murder The Girls?


The 2023 Taiwanese series “Copycat Killer” shows us how an individual could appear to be perfectly normal on the exterior but still possess extremely crooked sensibilities. Copycat Killer talks about trauma in general and shows us the far-reaching implications that an incident could have on a person’s life. It makes us realize how it is never wise to hide what’s going on inside you and live a pretentious life. It is important to let everything out of one’s system so that the backlog does not create any issues in the future. We are a generation of discontented people who are constantly comparing our lives to someone else’s and making things even more problematic for ourselves. We all have our own struggles in life, but there are a few unfortunate people who go through something that no human should ever do. Once these people become privy to the darkness that resides in our world, they are never able to return to their true selves, no matter how hard they try.

Spoilers Ahead

Hu Jian-Ho Becomes The Prime Suspect

Hsiao-Chi Kuo was called Fastidious Chi for a reason: he was a perfectionist of the highest order, and people knew that he didn’t stop unless and until he reached the root cause of the problem. Lin Shang-yong had found a severed hand in one of the parks, and as soon as Prosecutor Kuo saw it, he knew that it was a premeditated crime, and whoever had done it wanted to play a game with the authorities. The killer had purposely left the severed hand as if to challenge law enforcement to catch him if they could. The hand was neatly placed in a gift box and the perpetrator had taken great deal of effort to make it look aesthetic. 

He-ping Chin from the TNB media house was already in the park covering the news, and Hsiao-Chi Kuo got a bit amused at how fast these reporters came to know about anything that happened in the town. When Hsiao-Chi Kuo asked the medical examiner if he had seen any such case in the past where the criminal would have cut the hand and severed the thumb, surprisingly, he did remember a case that had taken place approximately a couple of years ago. The accused’s name was Cun-Yi Tian, and he had killed a girl named Jiang Yu-ping and then buried the corpse near his home. In the case files, it was mentioned that Cun-Yi Tian had tortured the victim for days before killing her. Mr. Kuo knew that there was a connection between his current case and that of Cun-Yi, but he wasn’t able to ascertain what it was. Cun-Yi was still serving his sentence, so committing the offense himself was out of the question, but Prosecutor Kuo knew that he could have had accomplices whom the police wouldn’t have known. Mr. Kuo went to meet Cun-Yi in prison, and he immediately realized that he was not the real killer and that he was merely taking the fall for someone else.

After that severed hand was found by the police in the park, many other girls went missing, one of whom was Lin Shang-yong’s daughter. Shang-yong had suspicions about a guy named Hu Jian-Ho, who worked for TNB Media House, and he was the one who had received the calls from the killer twice. When Shang-yong went to the club named Kink, where her daughter used to frequently go, he came to know that Hu Jian-Ho had a conversation with her daughter before the night she disappeared. Shang-yong also found out that Hu Jian-Ho had a dubious past, where he was charged with assaulting a girl. He was a juvenile at the time, which is why he was released after serving a minor sentence. Mr. Kuo knew Hu Jian-Ho from before, as he was the brother of one of his close friends, Yun-Huei Hu, who was a clinical psychologist who at times worked together with the prosecutor’s office. Yun-Huei told Mr. Kuo that her brother could never commit such a horrifying act, but as much as Kuo wanted to agree with her, he was bound by the law, and even his own intuition told him that there was some foul play.

How Did Prosecutor Hsiao-Chi Kuo Find The Real Murderer In ‘Copycat Killer’?

Prosecutor Kuo decided that they would have to go and meet the girl whom Hu Jian-ho had assaulted in the past. When they tried to contact her, they learned that she had recently committed suicide. Mr. Kuo and his team went to search for some evidence in the care home where she had been staying for quite some time now. Though the suspect, Hu Jian-Ho, came to meet her frequently, Hsiao-Chi Kuo found something that entirely nullified whatever progress he thought they had been making up until then. The name of an unknown guy, Shen Jia-wun, was written by the victim under her mattress on the plywood. After doing their research, Hsiao-Chi Kuo found that Jia-wun was also the batchmate of both the victim and Jian-ho. The prosecutors went to Shen Jia-wun’s address and met his mother, Pei-fen Jhao, who told them that her “daughter” had moved to the city a long time ago and she hadn’t seen her since that time. Mr. Kuo didn’t understand why Pei-Fen was referring to her son as her daughter, but a little snooping made him realize that things were not as straightforward as he had thought they were. 

In “Copycat Killer,” Jia-wun was the man who had been severing the hands of girls and sending them in gift boxes for the authorities to notice. He was torturing and killing all the girls, though, at that point in time, Mr. Kuo didn’t know that he was not the brains behind the operation and there was a mastermind above him. Hsiao-Chi Kuo had tried to interrogate Jia-wun, but due to the lack of any incriminating evidence that could be admissible in a court of law, he had to let him go. After days of hard work, the prosecutors were finally able to find the dead body of a girl named Jhang Ming-mei, buried in the yard of Jia-wun’s mother’s house. Jia-wun had realized that he wouldn’t be able to evade the law enforcement authorities for long.

Why Was Shen Jia-wun Murdering The Girls?

Shen Jia-wun still had Yu-tong in his captivity, and despite Hu Jian-Ho telling him time and again to release the girl, he was in no mood to let her go. Jia-wun forced Hu Jian-Ho to come with him in his car, knowing that the police could come at his doorstep anytime. All this time, he had Yu-tong in his trunk, and he had reached a point where he no longer knew what to do with her. He sped up his car as if he wanted to leave behind all the traumas of his childhood, but obviously, his attempts were never going to be successful. The car fell off a cliff, and both Jia-wun and Hu Jian-Ho died on the spot. Fortunately, Yu-tong was still alive, and Hsiao-Chi Kuo’s team saved her and got her admitted to a hospital.

As depicted in the “Copycat Killer” series, Shen Jia-wun had a tragic life and somewhere he had realized that he would never be able to start afresh. He was never able to erase the mark that the trauma of his childhood had left on his subconscious mind. Jia-wun’s mother had lost her husband and then her two month old daughter too. The grief of a mother losing her child was insurmountable, and slowly, she started losing her mind. When Jia-wun was born, his mother started feeling that she had gotten her daughter back. She started treating Jia-wun like a girl, making him wear women’s clothes and constantly telling him to accept the fact that he was a girl. Jia-wun, since a very young age, had felt a need to validate his own existence. His own mother was in denial of it, and it had a very deep impact on the mind of the young boy. Pei-fen even gave Jia-wun the same name as her daughter’s. That fear, that need to prove one’s own existence, and that anger and frustration transformed Jia-wun into a beast, and at times, he didn’t even recognize himself.

Jia-wun often said that the ghost of his sister possessed him and made him do all sorts of dastardly acts. Jia-wun stopped living with his mother, but still, he was not able to escape the ghost of his past. By the time he became an adult, Jia-wun was enveloped in hatred, and he started seeing the females as abominations who deserved to be tortured and abused. He felt gratified when he saw the girls in such a miserable state, and it felt like their helpless cries satiated his soul. Hu Jian-Ho did try to bring him back on the right path, but Jia-wun knew that he had reached a point of no return. He had surrendered to his demons, and he knew that he had already sealed his fate long ago. In moments of vulnerability, Jia-wun did feel guilty about what he had done, but he was in such a fragile state of mind that he was never able to gather himself and be in control.

Probably Jia-wun would have been able to deal with his traumas if he had gotten help at the right time. His obsession and mental instability got the better of him, and he ended up taking his own life, thereby putting an end to his misery.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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