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Teenager in spotlight after visiting the MRT stabber to learn motive

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A teenager has found himself in the spotlight of a social media campaign to help him after he visited the jailed Taipei MRT killing spree suspect.

The teenager, surnamed Huang, was the first to visit Cheng Chieh after the suspect was remanded into custody in Taipei.

Police later questioned Huang, 19, trying to determine the motivation behind the visit. They found out he comes from a troubled family who, he claimed, had abandoned him earlier this year.

Huang reportedly told police that he did not know Cheng, but wanted to meet him to find out why a person from a seemingly normal family could have committed such a horrible crime.

According to media reports of Huang's claims, his parents divorced when he was young, and he continued to live with his father, who later remarried. He apparently had problematic relationships with his father, stepmother and half-siblings.

He claimed that he had wanted to go to senior high school, but did not get the chance. His family apparently left him in February, and he claims to have supported himself by doing odd jobs.

His story has attracted the attention of a political figure, Jou Yi-cheng, who was a leader of Taiwan's student movements in the early 1990s.

Jou on Friday ran a Facebook campaign calling for help for Huang. He asked his Facebook friends to help Huang find a school and help fund his schooling.

More than 600 Facebook users “liked” his idea, according to the United Evening News, and many of them expressed a willingness to help Huang, sharing ideas of how they could find him jobs or even a foster family.

But Jou yesterday deleted the Huang postings from his Facebook page, and declined to talk to the press about the campaign.

Some reports suggested that Jou did not want it to become a media circus that could distort the campaign.

Lin Chao-wen, deputy director of New Taipei City's Social Affairs Bureau, said that Huang is from a troubled family, but he has not been abandoned as claimed.

Lin said that Huang has some health problems; his parents reportedly took him to the hospital for treatment on Friday.

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