Dead girl suspected victim of suicidal couple

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/14 23:08:40

A surveillance camera photo of Zhang Zixin with the couple in Xiangshan county, East China's Zhejiang Province Photo: Ningbo police Sina Weibo post

A 9-year-old girl found drowned to death after a week-long disappearance could have been victimized by a suicidal couple who briefly rented her family's home, police said on Sunday.  

 The body of Zhang Zixin was found in the sea near Xiangshan county Saturday after she was taken away on an alleged holiday from her home by a tenant couple who briefly rented her family's house. 

Police said Zhang had drowned. The couple had shown an inclination toward committing suicide with the girl, Zhejiang police said in a statement posted on its official Sina Weibo account on Sunday night. 

"It's not an accident as Zhang was found in an area beyond her reach. Witnesses saw her on the back of the man with her and the couple never reported any accident to local police. So police believed that her death was not an accidental fall into the water," a police officer in charge of the case told Zhejiang newspaper Pingan Shibao. 

The couple traveled to dozens of cities across China since April. They traveled from place to place swindling people for years, police noted, with their income barely able to meet life expenses. They had 31.7 yuan ($4.73) left before they killed themselves. 

The steady depletion of personal property as they traveled suggested they were preparing a long time for the suicide, police said.

They came to Zhang's village in June and booked a departing flight ticket. But they canceled the trip when they saw the girl and insisted on renting a room at the family's house.  

Three days after they moved in, the couple took Zhang away, telling her family they would attend a wedding in Shanghai, reported on Friday.  

The couple promised to bring the girl back but kept postponing Zhang's return, according to the Shanghai-based news portal. 

The trio lost contact on July 7 afternoon and the couple was found dead the following day. An investigation suggested they had committed suicide with their clothes tied together, the Beijing News reported. 

A search for the girl continued until Saturday night when news broke of her death. 

Internet users speculated earlier that the couple killed the girl as a sacrificial offering to a cult. 

Photos the man posted on social media suggested that he believed in a folk cult popular in East China's coastal regions and a hotel room in which the trio lived during their short trip had a statue from the cult. 

Police Saturday denied speculation that the tenant couple were connected to folk cult organizations, China National Radio reported on Saturday.

Zhang lived with her grandparents in a village close to Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Her parents were separated for years.

Net users mourned for the girl, with many saying that there were so many moments when her destiny might have been changed. 

"The grandparents should not have trusted the tenants at all, no matter how honest or kind they looked," said a netizen. 

Global Times

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