13-year search ends in murder’s cruel revelation

Photo courtesy of Sanook

A family’s relentless 13-year search for their missing daughter tragically ended with the arrest of a suspect and the confirmation that she had been murdered shortly after her disappearance in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China.

The girl vanished on January 7, 2011, just metres from her home, prompting her parents to dedicate their lives to finding her, even offering a 100,000 yuan (US$14,046) reward for information. Despite their efforts, which included learning to use smartphones and the Internet, the truth only emerged when the suspect was detained in late 2022 for a separate case, leading to a confession and a devastating revelation for the family.

The nightmare began for the family when their daughter, then aged 10, failed to come home on time on January 7, 2011. The distance from her school to home was a mere few metres, a journey she could make in two to three minutes.

On that fateful day, she had assured her father that she was old enough to walk home alone, marking the only day he did not go to pick her up. Concerned when she didn’t arrive, her father found her bag and hat on the stairs between the second and third floors of the building where she often read books. The school was already closed when he reached it.

As the community learned of the missing girl, one neighbour reported seeing a man carrying a child without a hat around 4.40pm on the day she disappeared. Another neighbour reported hearing screams the same afternoon, but found nothing upon investigation. Fearing abduction, the parents reported the incident to the police, who began an investigation into kidnapping.

Throughout the years, the parents travelled across Beijing, Shandong, Liaoning, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Fujian, encountering numerous false leads and scams that left them emotionally shattered but determined. They declined to upgrade their old mobile phones to smartphones, learning to navigate the Internet in hopes that social media could help find their daughter.

In 2013, a tip about a flower seller in Shenzhen who resembled their daughter sent them on a futile 20-day search, adding to their anguish. Throughout this period, the mother’s health deteriorated significantly, her weight dropping to 33.5 kilogrammes due to stress and lack of sleep, reported Sanook.

Suspect apprehended

Eventually, their daughter’s case gained significant progress when a suspect in a separate rape case was arrested in Harbin. On January 19 this year, the prosecutor’s office approved the arrest, and further investigation followed. It was only on January 25 at the Huilan District People’s Court that the parents learned the heart-wrenching truth: their daughter had died 13 years prior.

According to the prosecutor’s indictment, the suspect had followed the 10-year-old girl into the residential area, abducted her to a nearby parking garage, sexually assaulted her twice, and left her there, fleeing the scene. He confessed that upon returning days later and finding her dead, he disposed of the body, fled the area, and started a fruit retail business in Dalian before returning to Harbin, where he was eventually apprehended.

This revelation shattered the parents’ hopes, the girl’s father said.

“I had imagined countless possibilities… I wanted to believe she was abducted, at least then she would still be alive in this world.”

World News

Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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