Family shares heartbreak after ‘kind-hearted’ Mai Vang murdered

Mai Vang was 26 when she was strangled by her boyfriend Adam Margolis on the night of February 24, 2018, in his Bendigo home. Picture: Supplied

A man has been jailed for the murder of his 26-year-old girlfriend, as her family shared their memories of the kind-hearted woman. Read on the Herald Sun.

A man has been jailed for murdering a woman one month after they matched on chat website Omegle, sending sick Facebook messages to her sisters for two days while her body was on his floor.

Adam Margolis, 41, was sentenced to 23 years in prison with 17 non-parole in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday.

He was 37 when he choked his 26-year-old girlfriend Mai Vang in the early hours of February 25, 2018, in his Bendigo home.

It was a “violent and untimely” death for the gifted young chemical engineering student, who was killed in circumstances of domestic violence, Justice Christopher Beale said.

The murder followed a tortuous six hours of Margolis following Ms Vang around the house trying to hug her while she insisted she was fine.

“You kept pursuing Ms Vang, who was much smaller than you, from room to room,” Justice Beale said.

The argument escalated and he threatened to kill himself.

She was acting “irrationally” by telling him she was fine when he thought there was something wrong, and had “goaded” him by saying that she didn’t care if he killed himself, he had argued.

She had only been living with him for one week before he killed her.

In a victim impact statement to the court last month, Ms Vang’s father described the extraordinary series of events that led to Ms Vang’s life, before it was brutally cut short by someone who claimed to love her.

Ms Vang was born in a refugee camp, her heartbroken father Lah Vang said, the result of a beautiful love story.

After a communist takeover in his native Laos in 1975, Mr Vang, along with hundreds of others, fled into the mountains.

The terrified citizens struggled to make do with little food or medicine, enduring “relentless” attacks from communist forces.

In 1984 he managed to find safety in Thailand, where he met Ms Vang’s mother, Simor Vang, at the Chiang Kam refugee camp.

The pair became “inseparable”.

They married inside the camp in 1988 and had three children there, including Mai.

“I hoped that my children did not have to bear the abundance of poverty that I once experienced,” he told the court, adding that he dreamt of his children experiencing freedom and an education.

His wishes were realised when the family was granted visas by Australia.

He remembers the exact moment they landed at Melbourne Airport after he had boarded a plane for the very first time: 9.30am, November 22, 1994.

“I was overjoyed and delighted at the opportunity of being able to give my family the opportunities that I did not have,” he said.

He didn’t know he was moving to the country of his daughter’s eventual killer.

Mai grew up on a farm in far-north Queensland, where her father said she was a kind-hearted, generous and well-behaved child.

She helped her parents cultivate galangal, ginger, bananas and pandan leaf.

As a baby she rarely cried, and as a teenager she would stay up studying until 3am.

The gifted student was captain of her high school and vice-captain of her primary school, choosing to study chemical engineering when she graduated.

“From when she was 10 years of age until we lost her, she was very passionate about her dreams and aspirations,” Mr Vang said.

“She was always very forward with giving advice when needed and always loved to share any news that interested her.”

Mr and Mrs Vang had looked forward to watching Mai flourish in her career.

They assumed she would look after them as they grew old.

“Mai’s mother and I love her very much, and still remember the very first word she spoke as a child dearly in our heart,” he said.

“We remember her learning to walk, shop, ask for food and water.

“When we visited Melbourne she would pick us up and take us sightseeing and to restaurants.

“Now, when we come, she is nowhere to greet us.”

At this point in his statement Mr Vang broke down.

Unable to continue, the rest was read to the court by a helpful lawyer.

“Since 25 February 2018, 3.30 until this day, we have been locked in depression and have had no desire to resume our daily routine,” it said.

“As her father, I apologise to my dear Mai that I was unable to protect you.”

Ms Vang’s sister, Pa Vang, also read a statement to the court.

Pa Vang had endured learning that Facebook messages she had received from her sister’s account in February 2018 were really sent by Mai’s boyfriend and murderer, while her beloved sister lay dead on a thin, green mattress on his floor.

After he strangled her, Margolis messaged Ms Vang’s sisters claiming to be sick and telling them not to worry.

In a sickening further betrayal, he used their “Sisterz” group chat to help delay discovery of his crime as he planned a suicide attempt.

Pa Vang said when she learned her sister was actually dead, it felt as though time stopped.

She had been robbed of the only person who really understood her.

As children, Mai had turned their shared bedroom into a little school and instructed her in the alphabet before Pa was old enough for preschool.

“She was a sister who would walk with you to the finishing line,” she said,

“My only regret is not being able to express how grateful I am for her love, her kindness and support.”

When she was killed, Ms Vang had only been living with her boyfriend for one week.

She had not even told her family yet that he existed.

Pa Vang said she struggled with anger, confusion and disappointment after the shocking murder.

“Everywhere I go and everything I see or do I think of her,” she said.

“The food I eat, the clothes I buy and the places I go, I think and wonder if she would have liked them, too.

“I grieve for her, for her hope of love and happiness that she sought in Bendigo but never achieved.

“Instead, she was met with egotism and cruelty.”

Mr Margolis has consistently said he strangled Ms Vang while in the grips of a severe PTSD flashback.

Two psychiatrists wrote reports for the court confirming he did have PTSD from a traumatic childhood, but not severe enough for him to be considered so mentally ill that he would not stand trial.

He sent an emailed suicide note to three church acquaintances after his horror act was done.

He had emailed them to ask them to look after his cats.

In it, he explained that he blacked out, and came to with Ms Vang in a chokehold.

The email was a suicide note, but police found Margolis in his house still alive after one of the alarmed recipients called triple-0.

He said he came out of his “flashback” and realised he was facing two choices: to let Ms Vang go and have her “hysteria” explode, which may involve the police, or to kill her and then himself.

He chose to attempt the second option.

Justice Beale on Tuesday said he believed there was a risk Margolis would hurt a future partner if he got into another relationship when released.

A forensic psychiatrist found he had a severe personality disorder and PTSD.

Justice Beale said one of Margolis’s previous girlfriends had made allegations of rape to the police, which Margolis “vehemently” denies.

Margolis has served 1022 days pre-sentence detention and will be eligible for release in 2035.

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