A dad in Ohio took a plea deal on Monday regarding the January death of his 5-year-old daughter, whose body was found hidden in the family’s Chinese restaurant, just one day after he and the victim’s mother reported her missing.
According to PEOPLE, Liang Zhao pleaded guilty to gross abuse of a corpse, obstructing justice, tampering with evidence and two counts of endangering children.
Zhao agreed to testify against his wife in exchange for murder charges against him being dropped, and he will be given 12 years in prison, reports the Akron Beacon Journal.
The victim’s mother, MingMing Chen, is facing murder charges. Police believe she fatally hit the couple’s daughter, Ashley Zhao, multiple times with her right fist. After the girl’s death, the parents allegedly concealed the body inside Ang’s Asian Cuisine. Then, Chen and Liang Zhao reportedly called police to report her missing.
They told authorities that she had wandered out the back door of the restaurant. Initially, police believed the 5-year-old got lost in the woods behind the shopping plaza where the restaurant is situated. A statewide alert was issued as police feared that the cold January weather would hurt the child. However, Ashley was already dead when the call was placed, police allege.
According to booking records filed at the Stark County Jail where the parents were first held, Ashley’s father “found the victim had her head struck on the floor twice.” He noticed “green fluid coming from her mouth.” The father took Ashley to the bathroom and washed the fluid from her face, before he “laid her on the floor and noticed she had stopped breathing.” He tried CPR “with negative results.”
Chen has pleaded not guilty to the accusations.
[Photo: Stark County Sheriff’s Office]