April 11, 2023
An Orange County dermatologist who was charged on multiple accounts of attempting to poison her husband’s drinks has been indicted on three felony counts of poisoning as well as one count of domestic battery with corporal injury.
Dr. Jack Chen, a 53-year-old radiologist, first became suspicious of his wife when the warm drink she was serving him in March and April of 2022 seemed to have suddenly changed in flavor. He noticed that a warm glass of lemonade he had been drinking had a “chemical” flavor to it, and not long after consuming the beverage, booked an appointment with a GP who diagnosed him with two stomach ulcers, gastritis, and esophagitis.
Worried for his wellbeing, Dr. Chen secretly set up surveillance cameras in him home, and what he captured both shocked and appalled him. Chen watched as his wife, Yue "Emily" Yu, 45, poured Drano, a chemical drain cleaner, into his tea before serving it to him, confirming his fears that his drinks had been tampered with. Chen caught further incidents of poisoning on July 11, July 18, and July 25, 2022.
After making the shocking discovery, Chen set to work collecting evidence, obtaining a sample of the tea, and handing it over to the FBI for testing. Analysis revealed that the tea had indeed been spiked with the drain cleaning product.
Yu was arrested soon after outside of her dermatology office in Mission Viejo.
Chen filed a restraining order against Yu in August of 2022, as well as a restraining order that would prevent her from contact with their two children. He filed for divorce that same month. Yu was also arrested in August on suspicion of poisoning, however, paid a $30,000 bond and was subsequently released from custody. Initially she called Chen to ask him to pay her bail, but he refused to do so.
Dr. Chen was granted full custody of the couple’s children; however, Yu was granted scheduled visitation rights.
Chen alleged that his wife, Yue Yu, along with his mother-in-law, Yuqin “Amy” Gu, were abusive to both him and their children, 7 and 8 years old.
Chen claimed that Yu had been both verbally and physically abusive to himself and the kids, often telling them to “go and die” in her first language and calling them “stupid” and “dumb.”
Chen told the court that Yu was constantly verbally abusive to the children, who are elementary students, yelling things along the lines of: ‘your head is sick,’ ‘go f*** yourself,’ ‘f***ing idiot,’ ‘stupid a**hole,’ and ‘get the f*** out of my way.’
Chen described Yu’s parenting style as revolving around “yelling, insulting, verbally abusing, hitting, pushing, pulling and being emotionally abusive.” He claimed the abuse towards their children happened as early as when the kids were just 2 years old.
“As early as two-years-old, Emily and Amy were verbally and then physically abusive to (our children), which intensified as they grew older. They are both verbally and physically abusive to me,” Chen said of Yue Yu and her mother Yuquin Gu.
According to Chen, Yu would also deprive the children of sleep as a form of punishment.
“When the kids fall asleep without permission, even if after 11:00 p.m. she would wake them up, demand that [they] go to her room, shut the door, and make them cry. At the end sometimes she would tell the kids to get out and then slam the door behind them, making them cry outside her door.”
He added that, if the children expressed that they liked playing with him, rather than their mother, that Yu would isolate them to their room and shout at them until they agreed to not show their father any affection.
He also alleged that Yu would shout and scream at the children close to their faces when they played piano, calling them “ugly like a pig” and “stupid” when they didn’t play up to standard. Chen purported that this ill-treatment of their behavior spilled over into how the kids acted at school, with his son physically fighting with other children, resulting in phone calls to the home.
Yu, a Dermatologist, had a private practice in Newport Beach, California. She and Chen had been married for a decade before the sudden divorce was filed in August 2022.
Yu had studied at Washington University in St. Louis, Washington before becoming a board-certified dermatologist in California in 2010. Two years later she became certified in micrographic dermatologic surgery.
She and Chen began dating in 2011 and were married by July 4, 2012. A couple of years later they had their first child.
Chen said Yu seemed to change after the birth of their children in 2013 and 2014.
"After the children were born, I became concerned about Emily's behavior. Not only was she very demanding of me that I give her massages- one time when I could not because I was sick, she stepped on my head until I did- she also began hiding money from me," Chen said.
Scott Simmons, Yu’s attorney, argued that his client was set up and denies everything she has been accused of. Simmons said that Yu and Chen had been having a problem with ants in their home and had been using Drano to get rid of them.
Simmons argued that the cameras caught Yu pouring Drano into the hot lemonade as a "bait and kill" tactic against the ant problem. Simmons accused Chen of planting the cameras to set-up his wife and make it look like she was trying to poison him. He believes it is a case of defamation.
Yu's previous defense attorney, David Wohl, claimed that Yu was pouring the Drano into a cup before pouring it down the plug hole to unblock the pipes.
Simmons accused Chen of exaggerating the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease with injuries sustained from the consumption of Drano over a period of months, and calling a divorce lawyer before the emergency services.
According to reports, Chen did report the poisoning incidents to the Irvine Police Department on August 4, 2022.
Yu is scheduled to be arraigned at the Central Justice Centre in Santa Ana on April 18, 2023. It is expected Yu will plead not guilty to the charges against her and could face up to 8 years in prison.
November 28, 2023
November 21, 2023