Police: Mother accused of killing daughter in Chinese restaurant is not a U.S. citizen

Vigil to remember Ashley Zhao in Jackson Township

MASSILLON, Ohio -- Police say the mother accused of killing her daughter who was found dead in a Chinese restaurant is not a U.S. citizen. 

Mingming Chen and Liang Zhao are facing charges in the death of their 5-year-old daughter, Ashley Zhao, who was found dead inside Ang's Asian Cuisine Tuesday. Both parents were arraigned in court Wednesday and neither have previous felonies.

Chen, the mother, faces first-degree murder and felonious assault charges. Liang Zhao is charged with complicity to commit murder and complicity to commit felonious assault. Police say Liang Zhao is a legal U.S. citizen. Both wore orange Stark County Jail jumpsuits with cuffs around their wrists and ankles in Massillon Municipal Court Wednesday.

Bond was set for both parents at $5 million. A preliminary hearing has been set for Thursday, Jan. 19 at 11 a.m.

An autopsy on Ashley Zhao began Wednesday.

According to investigators, Ashley Zhao died when Chen allegedly struck the child’s head several times using her fist early Monday morning.

It’s believed Ashley’s father tried to revive her, but was unsuccessful. 

Hours later, the parents reported Ashley was missing. As search teams combed the area, a statewide endangered child alert was issued.

Ashley’s body was found late Tuesday afternoon concealed in the restaurant. A police spokesman says her body was "found in a place you wouldn't look" and that authorities found her based on information received in a tip.

The Stark County Coroner was called to the scene just before 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Once the Pathologist determined that Ashley was dead at approximately 4:20 p.m., BCI investigators and the Coroner's office photo-documented the scene and then were able to extricate Ashley's body from where she was hidden after search warrants were granted.

Ashley was removed from the area and externally examined before arriving at the morgue at 8:00 p.m.

WKYC's Amani Abraham spoke with someone who knows the parents. She said her daughter went to preschool with Ashley's sister, who is in custody of Stark County Families and Job Services.

Ashley's missing status surrounded the story that Ashley had gone to the back of Ang’s Asian Cuisine around 4-5 p.m. Monday to take a nap in a small bed. Her mother claims she went to check on Ashley around 9 p.m., and found her missing.

Initially, it was believed Ashley simply wandered out the restaurant’s back door.

Ang’s Asian Cuisine is located in a shopping plaza on Portage Street NW in Jackson Township. The restaurant has been open six years.

(© 2017 WKYC)


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