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'Pumpkin's' fugitive father caught in U.S.

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  • NEW: Suspect to be deported to New Zealand
  • Suspect accused of killing his wife in New Zealand
  • Man also abandoned his child in train station
  • Fugitive captured after residents recognized him, alerted authorities
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By Ashley Broughton
CNN
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A man accused of killing his wife in New Zealand and then abandoning the couple's 3-year-old daughter at an Australian train station has been captured in suburban Atlanta, authorities said.

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Nai Yin Xue was featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted" twice.

Nai Yin Xue had been sought by authorities in three countries since September, when a small girl was found abandoned at a Melbourne, Australia, train station. Surveillance footage from the station showed a man bringing her into the building and through security.

The child became known internationally as "Pumpkin," after the kind of sweater she was wearing -- the "Pumpkin Patch" brand -- but she was identified as Qian Xun Xue.

Nai Yin Xue, who authorities believe is in his early 50s, was arrested by police at an apartment complex in Chamblee, suburban Atlanta, after a group of residents recognized him and detained him -- reportedly hog-tying him -- until officers arrived.

Officers responding to a "wanted person" call found a crowd of people at the complex, none of whom spoke English, police said. But they were holding a Chinese-language newspaper and pointing to a photograph of a man.

An interpreter was brought to the scene and determined the group was detaining a man they said was wanted for killing his wife in New Zealand, police said.

Officers went into an apartment and saw the man, later identified as Xue, being held on the floor. Paramedics were summoned to check him out, because he was breathing heavily, police said.

Initially, the man gave police several different names but was clearly the man in the newspaper photograph, Chamblee police said. He was then found to be carrying a New Zealand driver's license bearing the name Nai Yin Xue.

Xue was not believed to be living at the apartment complex, police said.

Xue is in the United States illegally, said Patrick Crosby, spokesman for federal prosecutors in Atlanta.

Because of that, Crosby said, he will not appear before a magistrate, but instead will be transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be sent back to New Zealand.

The video of the girl being left at the train station sparked the international manhunt.

"He just walked away from her," said Thomas Hession, chief inspector for the U.S. Marshals' Regional Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles.

Police attempting to locate the girl's parents found the body of her mother, Anan Liu, 27, in the trunk of a car outside the couple's Auckland, New Zealand, home. She was believed to have been there for about six days, according to Australian and New Zealand media.

In a written statement, New Zealand police -- who identified the investigation as "Operation Patch" -- said the woman was believed to have been killed between September 11 and 13 during a "violent episode," but said they were not searching for weapons in connection with her death. Media reports said she was strangled.

Auckland police said the couple had a history of domestic violence. In a Chinese-language blog, Anan Liu documented her troubled marriage, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, U.S. authorities were notified that Xue had flown to Los Angeles, California, landing September 15 -- the same day his daughter was discovered at the train station, Hession said.

Xue, who holds dual citizenship in China and New Zealand and worked as a newspaper publisher in Auckland, was featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted" twice. But it was the Chinese newspaper that led to his capture.

"The Chinese community was very helpful in this. They were great," Hession said. "They didn't like the fact that this guy was running around."

Los Angeles radio host Cat Chao told CNN in October, "The feeling in the Chinese community ... people are angry. We want to nail this bastard."

Gifts poured in for "Pumpkin," said Australia and New Zealand media reports. The girl was briefly taken into foster care but was later reunited with her grandmother. Hession said the grandmother has taken her to China.

"America's Most Wanted" reported on its Web site Thursday that the group at the Chamblee apartment hog-tied Xue until police arrived, but authorities would not confirm that, saying only that the residents detained Xue and prevented him from leaving.

A multi-agency task force has been working to find Xue. According to his "wanted" poster -- issued by New Zealand police -- he was known to have contacts in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. He also was a self-proclaimed master of martial arts.

In January, police received a report that Xue was seen in Biloxi, Mississippi, Hession said. Other sightings were reported in Houston, Texas, and Mobile, Alabama.

"That's why we started hitting it pretty hard with the Gulf Coast Task Force and the Atlanta Task Force," he said.

"America's Most Wanted" reported the sightings, saying that authorities believed Xue was homeless and frequenting Chinese restaurants and martial arts studios. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Wayne Drash and Mike Phelan contributed to this report.

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