Former paratrooper is second US veteran arrested in connection to brutal killing on Taiwan
By MATTHEW M. BURKE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 14, 2018
A second U.S. military veteran has become ensnared in the grisly drug-related homicide of a Canadian school teacher on Taiwan over the summer.
Jason Hobbie, 46, was arrested Oct. 18 and is now the fourth suspect being held in the death of Ramgahan Sanjay Ryan, a 43-year-old Canadian man killed and dismembered with machetes on the evening of Aug. 21, according to the English-language Taiwan News.
Hobbie was allegedly fingered by Ewart Odane Bent, 30, a former Okinawa-based Marine who has confessed to premeditated homicide in Ryan’s death, Taiwan News said. Hobbie — who served in the Army between late 1991 and spring 1997, according to his military records — stands accused of helping Bent and two others cover up the crime by destroying evidence.
After Bent confessed to his role in the crime, he began to cooperate with police, according to Taiwan media reports. He allegedly told them he and Oren Shlomo Mayer, a 37-year-old Israeli-American tattoo shop owner and former Israel Defense Forces soldier, “lured” Ryan to a riverside park in New Taipei City.
Bent and Mayer were reportedly involved in a local drug ring that sold marijuana, as was Ryan, the Taiwan News said. The pair suspected Ryan had become a police informant when some of their colleagues were arrested on drug-related charges.
Bent told authorities that Mayer choked an inebriated Ryan to death with a wire chord before they chopped him up with machetes, Taiwan News reported. They then placed Ryan’s body in plastic trash bags and threw them into the river. The body was discovered the next day, and police immediately began to zero in on Bent.
Bent told police that Wu Hsuan, a 21-year-old Taiwanese-Canadian nightclub promoter, acted as a lookout during the killing, Taiwan News reported. He was also found to have purchased the machetes used in the crime.
Bent also said that another man, who Mayer referred to only as “J.J.,” and who Mayer had tattooed a bald eagle on his upper back, was also involved, Taipei Times said. Police later identified that man as Hobbie.
According to Bent, Mayer called Hobbie on the night of the killing and asked him to buy gasoline and fireworks and bring them to the crime scene, local media reports said. He allegedly told Hobbie that his scooter had run out of gas.
Hobbie told police he handed over the gas, shot off some fireworks and left the scene without witnessing or participating in the homicide, Taipei Times reported, citing police.
However, police intend to indict Hobbie as an accessory to murder, Yonghe Police Precinct Investigation Division Director Lin Chen-jui told Taipei Times. They believe he helped burn Bent and Mayer’s bloody clothing.
“We believe [Hobbie] went to the crime scene to provide 2 liters of gasoline for the other suspects,” Lin said, according to the news report. “The [homicide] was pre-planned and involved several suspects, who divided their work.”
Hobbie was branded a flight risk and ordered held “incommunicado” by a New Taipei court, local media reports said.
Bent and Mayer are also being held pending trial. Wu was arrested but was later released on about $10,000 bond. Police said they are investigating his role and were thinking about administering a polygraph.
Hobbie holds an Alien Resident Certificate through his wife, Taiwan News reported. While he has reportedly spent most of his time on the island as an English teacher, he claims to be a chef on social media and ran a business growing and selling vegetables.
Hobbie joined the Army out of Phoenix and served from December 1991 to April 1997, according to his military records. He later joined the 27th Infantry Regiment as a gunner at Fort Ord, Calif., before moving in May 1993 to Fort Carson, Colo., where he served in the 8th Infantry Regiment.
In January 1995, Hobbie went to Fort Benning for airborne school, his records state. Two months later, he was sent to Fort Bragg, N.C., where he joined the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantryman.
He spent his final two years in the service at Fort Bragg, his records state.
It is unclear if he deployed at all during that time, but his records say he received the Army Achievement Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and badges and bars for various infantryman proficiencies.
The records do not indicate the manner of his discharge, but Hobbie left the service as a specialist.