The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday June 8th

Pharmacy School professor robbed and beaten to death


Professor Feng Liu

Professor Feng Liu was on West University Drive when he was overcome by two men, robbed and badly beaten.

Liu, 59, was found in a residential area about five minutes from UNC's Eshelman School of Pharmacy — where he worked. He was taken to UNC Hospitals, and he later died from his injuries.

Police have arrested and charged Durham resident Derick Davis II, 23, and Chapel Hill resident Troy Arrington Jr., 27, with felony counts of assault and robbery.

Epitome of enthusiasm

With over 100 peer reviewed publications in academic journals, Liu was mourned by the scientific community all over the world.

"I think when people think of him they think of seeing him at every faculty meeting or seminar we have, or student presentation, or every social event — he was always there," said Russell Mumper, vice dean of the pharmacy school.

"You just kinda knew, you're not quite sure who's gonna be there but Feng will be there, and he's gonna be smiling and happy."

Mumper said Liu was a mentor to students, visiting scientists and international students in his lab, where his research focused on developing drugs to treat cancer.

"He was an inspiring mentor because students want to be interested in the field, they want to be inspired to do research, they want to work in someone's lab who's very enthusiastic — he epitomized that," he said.

Grief counselors were available for staff members at the pharmacy school. Representatives from Liu's family declined to comment for this story.

More charges coming

Liu died from head injuries, said Lt. Josh Mecimore, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department.

It is not yet clear exactly how the head injuries were obtained. Arrington and David were each in possession of a blunt object, according to police reports.

"We're waiting for the medical examiner to tell us specifically what happened," Mecimore said. Additional charges will be filed, according to the statement from police.

Arrington and David were not charged with homicide because Liu had not died when the two were initially arrested and charged.

"The fact that he died changes that crime," Mecimore said.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said Liu's death was a loss for the entire Chapel Hill community.

"A safe and secure environment is fundamental to our quality of life in Chapel Hill and, as a community, we must not tolerate such senseless violence," Kleinschmidt said in a statement released Thursday.

"The town and the University continue to partner on those matters impacting quality of life in Chapel Hill, public safety being chief among them."

Past charges

Davis has been convicted in the past of felony breaking and entering coupled with larceny — including theft of a motor vehicle — and assault. He was last released from prison in October, according to records from the North Carolina Department of Corrections. 

Corrections department records show Arrington has been convicted for assault on a female and the possession of a firearm by a felon. He was last released from prison in November 2012.

Davis and Arrington are being held under secured bonds in Orange County jail, according to the jail's daily custody report Thursday.

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