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Lips taped, kidnapped infant dies

A WOMAN from Jiangsu Province was arrested in Shanghai yesterday for allegedly abducting a four-month-old infant from a neighbor's family and killing him after the child started to cry.

Yu Hanmei, 19, was charged with kidnapping by the Minhang District Prosecutors Office. Yu initially confessed to the crime but later recanted when she learned she could face the death sentence, authorities said.

The abduction occurred on the afternoon of January 1, when a woman named Deng Lamei went out to buy food from a nearby market after her infant son fell asleep. Because her taxi driver husband, Shen Jianjia, was also out, Deng locked the door.

When she returned 10 minutes later, she found the door open and her son missing. She questioned Yu and her other neighbors, but no one knew where the infant was.

Meanwhile, Shen received 14 messages on his cell phone requesting 70,000 yuan (US$10,249) in ransom for the return of his son.

Police were able to trace the messages to Yu, and officers raided the young woman's apartment early the next day. Under Yu's bed, police found a dead infant whose mouth was covered with adhesive tape. The child was identified as the couple's son.

Yu, an unemployed woman, admitted to prosecutors that she has taken the infant so she could extort money from her neighbors who she thought were wealthy.

The idea for the abduction originated when Yu took Shen's taxi to Nanhui District one day but didn't have money to pay the 80-yuan fare. Shen told Yu she could pay later.

Deng asked to be reimbursed several times, which angered Yu. She thought the family was stingy and decided to get back at them, prosecutors alleged.

On January 1, when the couple left the apartment with the door unlocked, Yu snuck in, stole a key, made a copy and then put the key back, police said. She used the copy to enter the apartment on the day she kidnapped the baby, according to authorities.

Yu told officers she put the infant under the bed, but the baby soon began to cry. Afraid others might hear the noise, Yu punched the child in the head and sealed his mouth with tape, prosecutors said.

Under Chinese law, suspects who abduct people for ransom are charged with kidnapping. If the hostage dies, the convicted kidnapper can be sentenced to death.


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