The parents of a 5-year-old Jackson, Ohio, girl who was previously reported missing made their first court appearance since they were arrested and charged with her murder. The police announced on Tuesday evening that the body of the little girl had been found hidden in the family’s restaurant.
A judge at the Massillon Municipal Court set a bond of $5 million for 29-year-old Mingming Chen and 34-year-old Liang J. Zhao. The couple are both from the Jackson Township and stand accused of murdering their 5-year-old daughter, Ashley Zhao, who they had reported missing late Monday night. For the part she played in the death of her daughter, Chen will be charged with murder while the father, Liang Zhao, is charged with complicity to commit murder, both of which are first-degree felonies.
Missing Ohio 5-Year-Old Ashley Zhao Found Dead And ‘Concealed’ In Family Restaurant, Mother Charged With Murder https://t.co/jugwVwMx9G
— Inquisitr News (@theinquisitr) January 11, 2017
Tulsa World wrote that Ashley’s mother is also charged with felonious assault for punching the child before her death while Zhao is charged with complicity to commit felonious assault. Both of Ashley Zhao’s parents are being held at the Stark County Jail on a $5 million bond.
It was after an exhaustive day-long search that police announced on Tuesday evening that they had discovered the body of the missing girl. Ashley Zhao had been killed and hidden inside of her father’s restaurant, Ang’s Asian Cuisine at 4924 Portage St. NW in North Canton. The police did not release the details of exactly how the couple hid their murdered daughter in the family restaurant, however.
Parents of Ashley Zhao appear in court: According to investigators, Ashley Zhao died when Mingming Chen allegedly struck the child’s head… pic.twitter.com/8wNSGJdblc
— CavanaughNancy (@CavanaughNancy1) January 11, 2017
Initial reports from the parents of Ashley Zhao had been that she had gone missing after being sent to take a nap in the back of the restaurant at around 4:30 to 5 p.m. on Monday evening. Chen called in with the missing report at approximately 9 p.m. Jackson Police Chief Mark Brink said that Ashley Zhao had been known to walk out of the back door on previous visits to the restaurant, but no one saw her leave in this instance. Jackson Township police even took to social media in their quest to find the missing girl, and a statewide endangered child advisory was issued.
Police now say that Mingming Chen struck her 5-year-old daughter in the face several times on Monday. The Stark County Sheriff’s Office indicated that after being punching by her mother, a green fluid had been coming from the girl’s mouth which her father noticed and washed away. The court documents go on to say that Zhao said that once he had washed up Ashley in the bathroom he noticed that she had stopped breathing. He reportedly laid her on the floor and tried unsuccessfully to revive his daughter by performing CPR. It is unclear if the father had been present when Mingming Chen was allegedly punching the girl, nor is it said where the beating took place. The investigation is ongoing.
— Amani Abraham (@AmaniAbraham) January 11, 2017
Liang J. Zhao and Mingming Chen also have another child apart from Ashley, a 6-year-old daughter who has not been named due to the current circumstances. The little girl has been taken into the custody of Stark County Job and Family Services.
Cantonrep.com reported that though the $5 million bond may seem a bit high, Judge Eddie Elum explained that it was set with consideration of the fact that one of the defendants, Chen, could be facing deportation. While Liang Zhao is a U.S. citizen, he is known to have relatives in New York and both are flight risks. The couple will have their preliminary hearings at the Massillon Municipal Court once more on January 17 at 11 a.m. An autopsy is scheduled for Ashley Zhao today.
The non-profit riders club, Unforgiven, will be hosting a candlelight vigil for Ashley Zhao on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in front of Ang’s restaurant and are asking persons to show their support to end child abuse.
[Featured Image by Stark County Sheriff’s Department/Jackson Township Police]