The only man known to have seen fugitive Nai Yin Xue in Los Angeles since he fled there has said the first words that came out of his mouth were lies.
Walter, the attendant who booked Xue into the one-and-a-half star Pagoda motel in Chinatown, spoke exclusively to the Herald of how he calmly presented his New Zealand passport and was relaxed - despite having allegedly killed his wife and abandoned his young daughter.
Walter, who asked that his last name not be used, said he spoke to Xue after hearing his accent and seeing his name as he copied the passport as he checked in on the afternoon of Saturday September 15 (Monday September 16 NZ time).
Walter asked Xue if he came from a part of the Liao Ning province in northeast China.
Walter, who had lived there himself as a child, also tried to make small talk with Xue about how his name was the same as Xue Rengui, a famous Chinese general from the seventh century.
But Xue told him he was from a different part of China
"I said: 'come on, I know that accent; 60 years ago I was in your place'," said Walter.
"Don't be shy because your great-great granddaddy invaded Korea."
When news broke in the Chinese newspapers of how Xue fled to Los Angeles, he noted that Xue was in fact born in the particular part of China he had guessed. "I see the newspaper picture, I know the bad guy come in. I know now why he lie; he don't want anybody to know him."
Xue had also lied when filling in his arrivals card at Los Angeles airport.
Walter said Xue did "not look like he had killed somebody". "The medical scientists they say that if you kill somebody, it wrecks your face. But he was looking not so bad; he was fine."
Walter said he had not been interviewed by police or US Marshals, although it is understood the motel's records were seized.
Asked if he thought he should have called the authorities with his information about Xue, Walter said: "This is Chinatown. We see with these [eyes] all the time, not always do we 911. I am a quiet man. Besides, it is 10 days ago now, what is the point?"
Walter said he did not believe Xue could speak very good English, because he had immediately asked if they could speak in Mandarin.
Xue checked into Room 15, came out and had another chat, went for a walk and came back again.
Walter said Xue told him he might be sticking around for a while, and they talked about how it was not easy to be a Mandarin speaker in Chinatown, which is 80 per cent Cantonese. They talked about him going into the mainly Chinese suburbs of Monterey Park or Alhambra, in the San Gabriel Valley.
Xue came out again about 5pm, and went out for a meal, this time having changed his clothes, and wearing a "green cap like a US Marine's".
Whether anything he had told Walter was true is hard to know, because he did not bother to even stay the entire night at the Royal Pagoda, sneaking past Walter's replacement on the desk without checking out.