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Missing 5-Year-Old’s Body Found Hidden in Family’s Chinese Restaurant — and Parents Are Charged

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An Ohio mother and father were charged Wednesday in the death of their 5-year-old daughter, who they reported missing before police found her “deceased and concealed” in the family’s Chinese restaurant, PEOPLE confirms.

Ashley Zhao’s parents contacted police about 9 p.m. Monday and said they believed she “wandered out a back door” of Ang’s Asian Cuisine in North Canton, Ohio, around 5 p.m., according to police in Jackson Township, Ohio.

Their report triggered a statewide alert for the girl, but an investigation revealed that she was already dead. Around 9:15 a.m. Monday, hours before police were contacted, Ashley’s mother, MingMing Chen, allegedly “did strike her daughter … several times with her right fist,” according to booking information provided to PEOPLE by the Stark County Jail.

“The victim suffered injuries to her body which caused her death.”

From left: MingMing Chen and Liang Zhao
Stark County, Ohio, Jail
Ashley Zhao
Jackson Township Police

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The girl’s father, Liang Zhao, “found the victim had her head struck on the floor twice” by her mother, then noticed “green fluid coming from her mouth,” a jail booking report alleges. Zhao took Ashley to the bathroom and washed the fluid from her face, “then laid her on the floor and noticed she had stopped breathing,” according to the report.

He attempted CPR “with negative results.” Ashley’s body was discovered at Ang’s on Tuesday, and some local residents have turned the restaurant’s entrance into a commemorative site.

Chen was booked on charges of murder and felonious assault. Zhao was booked on charges of complicity to commit felonious assault and complicity to commit murder.

Both parents appeared Wednesday in Massillon Municipal Court, where their bond was set at $5 million, Fox 8 reports. Chen, a Chinese citizen, could face deportation, according to The Canton Repository.

They did not enter a plea to their charges, and an attorney on their behalf was not immediately named.