Police and volunteers searched frantically for 5-year-old Ashley Zhao after her mother called police to report the little girl had wandered away from the family’s North Canton, Ohio, business.
Mingming Chen reportedly told police her daughter had lay down for a nap in the afternoon, but was not there when she checked on her five hours later. Neighboring store owners and relatives joined the search, along with police K9s and drones. The child’s lifeless body was found a day later hidden in Ang’s Asian Cuisine restaurant.
The Stark County Sheriff’s Office developed a shocking theory about how Ashley died. They’ve accused Chen of hitting her daughter repeatedly in the head and face, causing the fatal injuries. Her father, Liang J. Zhao, allegedly found his daughter afterward with a green liquid coming from her mouth. Investigators say Zhao realized his daughter was not breathing as he cleaned her face. He tried to revive her unsuccessfully wth CPR, detectives say.
About 100 people show up at vigil to remember 5-year-old Ashley Zhao. Parents are in custody for her death. pic.twitter.com/2WtW8a7L1E
— Sara Goldenberg (@SaraGoldenberg) January 12, 2017
Ashley’s mom and dad then allegedly cooked up a fake missing child report. Chen and his charged with murder, while her husband is charged with complicity to murder and complicity to commit felonious assault. Both are being held pending $5 million bond.
Former prosecutor Nancy Grace urges Stark County prosecutors to consider pursuing the death penalty against the mother. “If this ends on a light plea, like voluntary manslaughter with 10 years to serve, she’ll be out in three years,” she said on her Crime Stories with Nancy Grace podcast. “Once again, a child’s life is going to count for less in a court of law than an adult. Like somehow because they are a child, because they are shorter and weigh less, they have less feelings and endured less when they are murdered.”
[Photo: Jackson Township Police Department]