The Shocking Murder of This 5-Year-Old in Their Family Restaurant

From Immigrant Dreams to a Nightmare

Malinda Fusco

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Photo by Khiem Ha on Unsplash

On January 9th, 2017, in North Canton, Ohio, a mother, Ming Ming Chen, committed a tragic crime against her 5-year-old daughter, Ashley Zhao. The incident, a result of Chen’s uncontrolled anger and “lack of maternal bond,” unfolded in the family’s restaurant.

This is the story of a devastating family secret hidden within the walls of a small business.

Ashley Zhao and Ming Ming Chen

Ashley Zhao, the victim, was a young child who had only recently returned to the United States from China, where she was raised by her grandmother.

The killer, Ming Ming Chen, was Ashley’s biological mother.

Chen’s “inability to bond” with Ashley, compounded by the stresses of running a small business and caring for two children, culminated in a moment of uncontrolled rage with tragic consequences.

Liang Zhao, Ashley’s father, while not directly involved in the murder, played a crucial role in the aftermath, helping to conceal the crime and mislead the authorities.

A Recipe for Disaster

Ming Ming Chen, a former elementary school teacher in China, immigrated to the United States in 2009. In the U.S., she met and married Liang Zhao, with whom she had two daughters.

The couple’s life revolved around their restaurant, Ang’s Asian Cuisine in North Canton, Ohio, a business they managed without additional staff. This relentless workload created a stressful environment.

Ashley, the younger daughter, spent the first four years of her life in China, only returning to her parents shortly before her death. This physical and emotional distance contributed to a strained relationship with her mother, laying a tragic foundation for the events that unfolded.

The Shocking Murder

The disappearance of Ashley Zhao on January 9th, 2017, initially appeared as a tragic case of a missing child. However, the investigation quickly turned into a murder inquiry.

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