Ohio police have released the 911 call placed by the father who has been charged as an accomplice to the murder of his 5-year-old daughter, Ashley Zhao. Ashley’s body was found concealed in the Chinese restaurant owned by her parents, Minming Chen and Ling Zhao, who are currently in custody facing murder and accomplice charges. Chen has been charged with the girl’s murder, and Zhao is accused of conspiring to cover up the crime.
Last Monday, after authorities believe Ashley was already dead, Zhao placed a 911 call to report his daughter missing. A local Ohio CBS affiliate published a recording of the call, which was placed at around 9 p.m. Monday.
During the call, Zhao tells the dispatcher he hasn’t seen his daughter since late that afternoon.
“You haven’t seen her in five hours?,” the 911 dispatcher asks.
“About, yeah,” Zhao replies. “She was there sleeping [at the restaurant]…I picked up my older daughter from school. We all saw her sleeping there. We went to work and you know we let her sleep and we got busy. And then, uh, uh, after we got busy we start cleaning up. And then, you know, we open the door, and she’s not here.”
Police launched a massive search in response to the missing persons report, and found the girl’s body on Tuesday afternoon, hidden in the restaurant. According to the Stark County Sheriff’s account, Chen had beaten her daughter sometime Monday morning, striking her in the face. Ashley’s father found the girl on the floor with a green liquid coming from her mouth, and took her into a bathroom to clean her up when he noticed she was unresponsive. He reportedly tried to administer CPR to revive her, but failed.
It is yet unknown what, if anything, prompted Chen to beat her five-year-old daughter to death.
Zhao and Chen are in custody on $5 million dollar bonds. During the investigation, authorities discovered that Chen, 29, is not a naturalized citizen, and she may now face deportation. Chen and Zhao also have a six-year-old son, who has been placed in protective custody with Stark County Children and Family Services.
Photo: Jackson Township Police Department