Vigil held for 5-year-old North Canton girl found dead inside her family’s restaurant

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JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -  A steady stream of cars and more than 50 people braved a cold, continuous rain Wednesday night to remember 5-year-old Ashley Zhao.

They gathered in front of Ang’s Asian Cuisine on Portage Street, NW, the same restaurant where her remains were found Tuesday.

“We felt something needed to be said,” said Patrick Jacobs whose group Unforgiven organized the event. “What happens to children is unforgivable that’s why we’re called Unforgiven.”

The little girl had been reported missing Monday night, launching a massive search effort involving local, state and federal agencies.

Upon learning that her parents caused the death and concealed the body, Jackson TWP Police Chief Mark Brink said, “There were a lot of tears that were shed at this department.”

Many people were also brought to tears at the vigil, especially people who live and work in the area. Multiple people said they never saw any signs of abuse and say Ashley was incredibly smart, sweet and always running around the restaurant.

“She was simply adorable, so cute,” said Antoinette Giannetti. “You’d see her coloring so I brought her a coloring book and crayons.”

Others brought balloons, candles and stuffed animals; including many parents with small children.

“She knows about heaven because grandma’s in heaven,” said Heahter Hemperly with her young daughter Ahleah. “So she picked out bear with angel wings.”

But as the memorial continued to grow throughout the evening, so did the questions. Everyone wondered aloud how something so horrific could happen.

“I mean if you have a problem there’s people to call you know get help it doesn’t have to end like this,” said Patrick Jacobs.

Ming Ming Chen and Liang Zhao were arraigned Wednesday morning on multiple charges and bond set at 5-million dollars.

Both remain locked up at the Stark County Jail with bond set at 5 million dollars.


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