Child accidentally murdered during botched kidnapping

October 20, 2003
Toronto, Ontario
Cecilia Zhang (9) is accidentally murdered during a botched kidnapping

Cecilia’s murderer is Min Chen, a visa student, who had been friends with a female border living with the Zhangs. Shortly before the murder, Chen was failing out of school and had no money, and feared he would be deported back to China. He decided to enter a marriage of convenience, marrying a Canadian woman to gain permanent Canadian citizenship, but needed $25,000 to do so.

Chen’s plan was to kidnap Cecilia to hold her for a ransom. During the early hours of October 20, he snuck into the Zhang household. When Cecilia tried to scream, Chen covered her mouth and nose with his hand and a towel, noting she was no longer struggling by the time she was placed in a car trunk. When he checked on her later, he noticed she wasn’t breathing. He hid her body in the woods where it was discovered 5 months later.

Chen was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life with a possibility of parole after 15 years. Should he be granted parole, he may be deported back to China which has a law allowing a person already convicted of a crime on foreign soil to be retried and re-sentenced. Because this violates Canadian law due to double jeopardy, Chen’s case has attracted the attention of human rights lawyers who may try to keep Chen from being deported.

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