Mingdong Chen, 27, was sentenced to 125 years in prison for the deaths of five people, including four young children. In October 2013, the undocumented Chinese immigrant butchered his cousin’s wife and children with a meat cleaver. Although he eventually confessed, it is unclear what prompted Chen to commit the heinous crime.
As reported by the Daily Mail, Chen had been living in the United States illegally since 2004. Authorities believe he spent a majority of his time moving between Chicago and New York.
In October 2013, Mingdong Chen was staying in Brooklyn with his cousin Yi Lin Zhuo, his cousin’s wife Qiao Zhen Li, and their four children — as he was recently terminated from his job at a local restaurant.
According to witness reports, Chen appeared to be agitated in the days leading up to the mass murder. Although his family and friends were concerned about his unusual behavior, they were unaware Mingdong was capable of violent crime.
On October 26, Qiao and her four children were home alone with Chen, as Lin Zhuo was working.
Throughout the day, the 37-year-old woman became increasingly worried about Mingdong’s bizarre mood. As she was unable to reach her husband at work, Qiao contacted her mother-in-law in China.
Authorities confirmed she was still on the phone when Chen walked into the room wielding a meat cleaver.
During a police interview, Mingdong Chen admitted using the cleaver to kill Qiao first. He then proceeded to brutally murder all four of her children.
As reported by the New York Daily News, the children were identified as 9-year-old Linda, 5-year-old Kevin, 7-year-old Amy, and 1-year-old William.
Although Qiao’s sister and husband rushed to she scene, it was simply too late. They were met at the front door by Mingdong, who stated “I know I am done.”
Although he surrendered to authorities, Chen reportedly assaulted an officer during interrogation. Despite the outburst, he confessed to the abhorrent crime.
In addition to providing the devastating details of his crime, Mingdong offered several possible motives. During a series of police interviews, the undocumented immigrant confessed he was jealous because he lost his job and did not have a family of his own. He also mentioned the fact that he was “unable to get good rest” in the weeks leading up to the mass murder.
Tony Chen, who is unrelated to the accused killer, confirmed reports that his friend was agitated in the days prior to the heinous crime. However, he believes the conflict between Mingdong and his family was sparked by his addiction to gambling and smoking marijuana.
According to Tony, his friend of several years “was often agitated” when gambling and would “pound his hand against [the slot machine] angrily if he lost.”
Tony said Mingdong’s family did not approve of the gambling or drug use, and the issue was often a point of contention.
Although he confessed to the crime, Mingdong Chen’s trial was delayed by questions concerning his mental health. According to court records, two psychiatrists concluded the defendant was “exhibiting symptoms of a severe mental illness,” which rendered him unfit to stand trial.
He admitted to killing 5 of his relatives with a meat cleaver http://t.co/y68nWePny1 pic.twitter.com/KFiLe6muM8
— Newsday (@Newsday) October 9, 2015
One year later, Mingdong and his attorneys agreed to a plea bargain, which guarantees the accused killer will spend the rest of his life in prison. During the hearing, Judge Vincent Del Giudice confirmed the defendant was “clear, lucid, and competent,” and, therefore, fit to enter into the agreement.
— alexmerced (@alexmerced) October 20, 2015
Mingdong Chen was subsequently sentenced to a minimum of 125 years in prison. Prosecutors said the deal was made to assure Chen will serve life in prison and to give his cousin and his family some degree of closure.
[Image via Shutterstock/Lisovskaya Natalia]