Accident ruled out in Zhejiang girl's case

Preliminary investigation suggested that the 9-year-old was murdered by Liang and Xie, who were tenants at her family's property. 

Zhejiang police have ruled out accident as the cause of death of 9-year-old girl Zhang Zixin, whose weeklong disappearance gripped the country.

Preliminary investigation suggested that she was murdered by Liang and Xie, who were tenants at her family’s property. The duo, who were in a relationship, had committed suicide.

Zhang’s body was found in the waters off Shipu Town, a remote township in Ningbo, on July 13. Police said the place where Zhang’s body was found did not have a street light and was hard for a girl to walk alone. Witnesses confirmed that the night she disappeared Liang was seen holding Zhang on his back. The fact that neither Liang nor Xie approached police rules out the possibility of an accident. Zhang’s belongings were missing, too.

Police said they received a report on July 8 from Zhang’s grandfather, saying her granddaughter had been taken from her home in Chun’an County by a woman and a man, lodgers at their property, and were missing. Zhang was taken on the pretext of attending a wedding banquet in Shanghai. On several occasions, the two tenants spoke of Zhang as their foster child.

The girl was taken from her home on the outskirts of Hangzhou on July 4. Days later, the tenant couple’s bodies were discovered, with their clothing tied together, in a lake in Ningbo, and police said they had taken their own lives.

The girl was last seen in surveillance camera footage on July 7, and more than 500 police officers were involved in the search this week.

Liang, 43, and Xie, 45, were both from Huazhou City in Guangdong Province. Liang was married and had two children. The two started living together since 2005. With no permanent source of income, they borrowed heavily.

When they committed suicide, they only had 31.7 yuan (US$4.66) left with them. Police said the couple had shown suicidal tendencies for a long time.

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