Murder of the Zhuo family

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The murder of the Zhuo family occurred on October 26, 2013, when perpetrator Mingdong Chen murdered his cousin's wife and four children in their Brooklyn, New York home.


Chen, who was an illegal immigrant to the United States and living temporarily with his cousin's family, murdered his cousin's four children, Linda Zhuo (9), Amy Zhuo (7), Kevin Zhuo (5), and William Zhuo (1), and their mother, Qiao Zhen Li (37), in their home in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, in New York City.[1] All five died of cut wounds to the neck made with a butcher knife.[2][3][4][5] The perpetrator was discovered at the scene of the crime, spattered in blood. He said, "I know I am done."[2]

Chen had previously lived in Chicago, and in Florida, as well as in New York and had been staying with his cousin's family for about a week at the time of the killings.[6][7]


Chen was an unemployed transient and an illegal immigrant.[3][2] He arrived in the United States in 2004.[8]

He underwent psychiatric treatment and evaluation for fitness to stand trial.[9]

According to the China Daily, Chen arrived in the United States from Fujian age 16 with $70,000 debt to the "snakehead" gang that smuggled him into the country illegally and worked in Chinese take-out restaurants to pay off his debt.[10] He applied for asylum in the United States in 2007 with fake testimonials that a fraudulent Chinatown immigration agency helped him forge, but lost his final appeal in June 2013.[10]


The perpetrator is said to have been disappointed with his failure to succeed in America, and jealous of those who had found employment.[3][11] According to Edward Chiu, head of the Lin Sing Association, arguments and even fights between new immigrants and relatives who have begun to establish themselves are not uncommon, and are a result of the unrealistic expectation many Chinese immigrants have of becoming rich in America, and the resentment they experience when they fail where others succeed.[6]

Chen, who did not speak English, had held a series of restaurant jobs as a waiter, but had been fired after a week or two.[12]

NYPD Chief Philip Banks III stated that during his confession, made via a translator, that he killed his cousin's family because he had failed to make it in America and was envious of his cousin, who was more successful. Chen stated that, "Everyone here is doing better than me."[13]

Several Chinese-language newspapers reported that Chen had been the victim of a Green card marriage scam in which a woman promised to marry him in exchange for a sum of money, then made off with the money.[14] Chen's gambling buddy, Erdong Chen (37,) told a reporter that Chen had told him that he had paid his fiance $70,000 and that she had run off with the money. According to the friend, the day before the killings Chen told him that he wanted to kill his absconded fiancee.[15]

Arrest, Trial, and Conviction[edit]

Chen punched a police officer when apprehended, but made a full confession of the crime.[16][11]

Chen, who spoke little English, pled guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree manslaughter, speaking through an interpreter.[17][8][18]

He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.[10]


Some commentators seized on this murder to criticize American immigration policy.[19]


A 2017 indie film, "Gold Fortune," by Shiyu “Rhyme” Lu revisits the murder in the context of the struggles of new immigrants to America.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yee, Vivian; Singer, Jeffrey E. (29 December 2013). "The Death of a Family, and an American Dream". New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Turkowitz, Julie; Goldman, J. David (28 October 2013). "Stabbing Suspect Silent; Grieving Goes On". New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Goldman, J. David (27 October 2013). "Before Carnage, Frantic Warnings of Relative's Odd Behavior". New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  4. ^ Stapelton, AnneClaire; Assefa, Haimy (27 October 2013). "Mom, 4 kids dead in Brooklyn stabbing". CNN. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Mother and four children stabbed to death in New York". The Daily Telegraph. Reuters. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b Destefano, Anthony (28 October 2013). "Mingdong Chen arraigned in stabbing of NYC family". Newsday. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  7. ^ Hartmann, Margaret (27 October 2013). "Mother and Four Children Stabbed to Death in Brooklyn". New York. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  8. ^ a b Schweber, Nate (7 October 2015). "Brooklyn Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Cousin's Wife and 4 Children". New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  9. ^ Feis, Aaron; Saul, Joshua (27 January 2014). "Knife madman: 'Noise' drove me to slay family". New York Post. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Jiang, Hezi (21 October 2015). "Chinese immigrant sentenced for killing cousin's family". China Daily. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  11. ^ a b Parascandola, Rocco; Weichselbaum, Simone; Moore, Tina; Sandoval, Edgar (28 October 2013). "Brooklyn stabbing suspect did it because his life was miserable: cops". New York Daily News. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  12. ^ Daly, Michael (28 October 2013). "Brooklyn Mother, Four Children Allegedly Slain by Jealous Cousin". Daily Beast. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  13. ^ Schram, Jamie; Conley, Kirstan; Golding, Bruce; Selona, Larry (28 October 2013). "The green eyed monster; B'klyn butcher jealous of kin's success". New York Post. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  14. ^ DeStefano, Anthony (30 October 2013). "Suspect reportedly scammed". Newsday. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  15. ^ Sheehan, Kevin; Saul, Josh; Golding, Bruce (29 October 2013). "Dream life was doomed Brooklyn family before the massacre". New York Post. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  16. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (28 October 2013). "Man Accused of Butchering Brooklyn Family Confessed, Punched a Cop". New York Magazine. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  17. ^ Eustachewich, Lia (20 October 2015). "Maniac who hacked family to death with meat cleaver to spend 'rest of life in a cage'". New York Post. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  18. ^ "Man who slaughtered five relatives gets 125 years in US prison". The Guardian. AP. 7 October 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  19. ^ Arbruzzo, Shavana (8 November 2013). "Illegals are turning the U.S. into the world's largest welfare state". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  20. ^ Hong, Mike (21 November 2017). "New Film Inspired by Brooklyn Murder of a Chinese Family". World Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2019.