Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Nine-year-old Cecilia Zhang is missing from her Toronto home.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2003]
Origins: Sadly, this was no hoax — the child described in the
Two phone calls were made from different pay phones in Brampton (a nearby town) to the Zhang home just before Cecilia's parents realized their daughter was gone. In each instance, the caller said nothing when the phone was answered. No ransom demand was received, and no contact was made by the abductors either with the family or the police.
A province-wide Amber Alert was issued on the day Cecilia was taken. It sent a description of the girl across Ontario and activated highway signs alerting motorists about the abduction. The alert was canceled a day later.
As part of its 1 November 2003 episode, America's Most Wanted ran a segment on the kidnapping of Cecilia Zhang. Thanks to the show, one day later thirteen fresh tips were turned over to the Toronto police working the
Two rewards totaling $85,000 were being offered. Numerous hotlines had been set up in English and in Chinese dialects. More than 1700 posters and flyers bearing photos of the missing girl were posted in bus and subway stations. Yet little new information came in as time went by, and the older leads were exhausted. As of
There was hope the child was taken by those looking to strike it rich. Kidnapping for profit is not unheard of within the Chinese community — though not common by any means, such abductions occur more often than they do within the general population. Had she been such a hostage, there would have been greater reason to hope she would eventually be returned unharmed.
But that was not to be.
Two days before what would have been Cecilia Zhang's tenth birthday, police in Toronto reported that she had been found. On
On 21 July 2004, Min Chen, a 21-year-old Chinese national in Canada on a student visa, was arrested in connection with the case and the next day charged with first-degree murder for the death of the fourth-grader. It appears he knew the child, having been introduced to her during visits to a classmate who at one time rented a room from the Zhangs. Chen pled guilty to second-degree murder in May 2006 and was sentenced to life in prison.
Last updated: 2 December 2010
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