Trap set for fugitive Nai Yin Xue
A trap has been set for New Zealand murder suspect Nai Yin Xue, who is on the run in America's southern states in a blue Ford Thunderbird car and using aliases to trick locals and United States law enforcement.
The last confirmed sighting of Xue was 10 days ago in the city of Mobile, Alabama, where he introduced himself to unsuspecting residents as "Peter Chung".
US authorities from Texas to the US east coast are on the lookout for Xue and his distinctive blue 1996 Thunderbird.
The car's licence plate has been entered in the American law enforcement database so a simple traffic violation may lead to the elusive martial arts expert's arrest.
Chinese restaurants and martial arts studios, where Xue is believed to seek assistance when he stops in a new town, have also been alerted in Texas, Alabama and Mississippi.
"As far as we know, he's pretty destitute right now," Commander Tom Hession, head of the Los Angeles US Marshals unit leading the hunt for Xue, told AAP today.
"That's going to work to our advantage."
Xue, 53, has been on the run in the US the past five months.
New Zealand authorities are keen to interview him about the murder of his wife, Anan Liu, in Auckland last September and the dumping of his three-year-old daughter, Qian Xun Xue, who became known as Pumpkin, in a Melbourne railway station.
Xue then caught a plane from Melbourne to Los Angeles.
The hunt for Xue had centred on Chinese communities in Los Angeles, but fresh leads switched the search to Texas and other southern states on America's Gulf Coast.
"The investigation has led us to the Houston and Gulf Coast area of the US, including Biloxi, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama," Hession said.
"He's been spotted in those areas.
"We have confirmed the sightings he has spent time there the last couple months and we're letting the public know through some press releases and media requests to be on the lookout."
US authorities believe Xue is short of cash.
He survived the past five months by befriending unsuspecting locals in Texas, Mississippi and Alabama and depending on their generosity for food and accommodation.
As well as the alias Peter Chung, Xue is known to use the names Peter Tzang, David Wang, Jieh Tzang and Michael Xue.
The locals were not aware he was a fugitive until they saw media stories about Xue, particularly on the TV show America's Most Wanted.
"Without going into exact details of the investigation, we have confirmed he has obtained some assistance from folks he has met along the way with them not knowing what he had done," Hession said.
"Him being profiled on America's Most Wanted several times and being on the website has generated a lot of interest.
"They've spotted him and have then called in when they figured out who he was."
Xue's 1996 blue Ford Thunderbird, and its number plate, W56KCK, could be the key to tracking him down.
"With the number plate and the description of him, what we're hoping is he creates a traffic violation and a local police officer spots him and runs the car through the database," Hession added.
The new sightings have generated fresh media interest in the region where Xue has been roaming.
The Houston Chronicle newspaper ran a story today with the headline New Zealand Fugitive May Be Hiding Out Here.
The story includes a photo of Xue in a black, shiny martial arts outfit, posing with his fists in a menacing fashion.
Mississippi newspaper, the Biloxi Sun-Herald, ran a story today with the headline: `Most wanted' may be on the Coast and informed readers of Xue's height and appearance.
"He practices martial arts and may be looking for a job," the Biloxi Sun-Herald reported.
"He is known to visit martial arts businesses and Chinese restaurants."
Hession is hopeful of an arrest.
"We're a lot closer than what we were," Hession said.
"We're just waiting for that one break."