Ashley Zhao, a 5-year-old girl, was found dead inside her family’s Asian restaurant in North Canton, Ohio, on Tuesday. The girl’s parents, Mingming Chen and Liang Zhao, have been arrested for charges related to her murder and booked into the Stark County Jail.
North Canton area police officers revealed Ashley Zhao was found “concealed” inside the Asian restaurant located in Jackson Township, Cleveland 19 News reports. Ashley was reported missing after last being seen at Ang’s Asian Cuisine on Portage Street in the late afternoon.
Stark County Sheriff’s Office investigators believe Mingming Chen, Ashley Zhao’s mother, hit the little girl in the head multiple times with her fist and then pounded her head onto the floor at least twice, KARE 11 News notes. The 5-year-old North Canton girl reportedly suffered severe injuries to her body, which caused her death. The fatal assault allegedly at the hands of the mother is thought to have occurred around 9:15 a.m. on Monday.
Mingming Chen faces murder and felonious assault charges. Liang Zhao has been arrested on complicity charges in relation to the murder of his little girl.
BREAKING: Parents of 5-year-old Ashley Zhao being held in Stark County Jail, police say. Mom charged with murder. pic.twitter.com/YimwgY4dVe
— Sara Goldenberg (@SaraGoldenberg) January 11, 2017
North Canton law enforcement officials were initially led to believe Ashley Zhao simply wandered out the back door of Ang’s Asian Cuisine around 5 p.m. on Monday. Mingming Chen reportedly indicated to sheriff’s deputies that when she went to wake up her daughter a little more than four hours later, the child had gone missing. Liang Zhao and his daughter’s mother called the police to report her missing from the location of the family’s Asian restaurant.
Stark County investigators did not find any evidence that Ashley Zhao had been abducted from the Ohio restaurant. A statewide missing child alert was immediately issued. The 5-year-old girl had been reported missing for several hours when her uncle, Joey Lin, arrived at the restaurant. Lin wanted to help with the search in the woods behind Ang’s Asian Cuisine, but the investigators reportedly told the worried uncle that the area had already been searched and cleared. Other area residents came to the restaurant to offer their help with the search and rescue effort as well.
BREAKING: Child’s mother – Mingming Chen charged with Murder and Felonious Assault in death of 5 yo Ashley Zhao, according to officials. pic.twitter.com/IahxCEibn4
— Dena Greer (@DenaGreerTV) January 11, 2017
Several hours after the missing child search for Ashley Zhao had been launched, the Ohio BCI crime team arrived on the scene. The elite crew of criminal investigators covered the windows of the restaurant with brown paper and began searching for forensic evidence related to the missing little girl inside Ang’s Asian Cuisine. Nearly 24 hours after the child had been reported missing, her lifeless body was discovered hidden inside the restaurant.
Investigators believe Liang Zhao found his daughter after her mother beat her in the head and pounded her head on the floor. The girl’s father reportedly found her on the floor and noticed she had green fluid running out of her mouth. After trying to clean his daughter’s face, law enforcement officials say the father noticed Ashley had stopped breathing. The elder Zhao reportedly tried to revive his daughter by giving her CPR, but his attempts were not successful.
— Tara Molina (@TaraMolinaTV) January 10, 2017
Why Mingming Chen allegedly beat her daughter to death is not yet known. No motive in the Ashley Zhao murder case has yet been released to the public. Any history of abuse inside the family also remains unknown. Ohio Police investigators launched a search of the North Canton apartment where the 5-year-old girl lived with her parents in an effort to obtain more potential evidence that could shed light on the gruesome murder of the little girl.
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