Mother, 4 kids stabbed to death in Brooklyn; house guest arrested
NEW YORK — A Chinese immigrant who neighbors said struggled to survive in America was arrested on Sunday on five counts of murder in the stabbing deaths of his cousin's wife and her four children in their Brooklyn home — using a butcher knife.
The suspect, 25-year-old Mingdong Chen, implicated himself in the killings late Saturday in the Sunset Park neighborhood, police said.
“They were cut and butchered with a kitchen knife,” said Chief of Department Philip Banks III.
Two girls, 9-year-old Linda Zhuo and 7-year-old Amy Zhuo, were pronounced dead at the scene, along with the youngest child, 1-year-old William Zhuo — all attacked in a back bedroom, police said. Their brother, 5-year-old Kevin Zhuo, and 37-year-old mother, Qiao Zhen Li, were taken to hospitals, where they were pronounced dead.
Chen is a cousin of the children's father and had been staying at the home for the past week or so, Banks said.
Chen came to the United States from China in 2004, the chief said, but neighbors say he could never hold down a job.
“He made a very soft comment that since he came to this country, everybody seems to be doing better than him,” the chief said. “We're not really sure what that means.”
The chief said Chen speaks only Mandarin Chinese despite being in the United States for almost a decade.
On Saturday night, Chen apparently had been acting in a “suspicious” way that concerned Li, Banks said. She tried to call her husband but couldn't reach him.
Banks said Li then called her mother-in-law in China, who was unsuccessful in reaching her son. The mother-in-law reached out to her daughter in the same Brooklyn neighborhood, Banks said.
She and her husband came to the house and banged on the door. When it opened, they faced a grisly sight: a man they didn't know, covered with blood. The couple called 911, and officers investigating another matter nearby responded quickly, Banks said.
“It's a scene you'll never forget,” he said. The victims had wounds in their necks and torsos.
Banks said Chen had at first resisted arrest and, while being processed, assaulted a police officer.
Bob Madden, who lives nearby, was walking his dog Saturday night when he saw a man being escorted from the two-family brick house by police. He was barefoot, wearing jeans, and “he was staring, he was expressionless,” Madden said.
Yuan Gao, a cousin of the mother, stood on the street on Sunday along with the neighborhood's mostly Chinese residents. Some said that at Chen's latest temporary home, days before the killings, late-night arguments were loud enough to be heard outside.
Gao said Chen was emotionally unstable. “He's crazy,” she said. Chen kept getting fired from restaurants after only a few weeks on the job, she said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Postal Service falls short of slower mail delivery standards
- CDC lauds schools for better nutrition
- Memorial service for slain Virginia journalists brings call for action
- University of Texas removes statue of Confederate President Davis
- Motive in ambush of Houston area deputy remains unknown
- Obama administration developing sanctions against China over cyberespionage
- Erika wanes as Tropical Storm Fred forms in Atlantic
- Obama inches closer to veto-proof support for Iran nuclear deal
- Pope Francis’ lack of familiarity with United States unusual
- New Orleans slow to heal 10 years after Hurricane Katrina
- Supreme Court can resolve Kentucky county clerk’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to gays