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November 27, 2013

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Brothers sentenced 16 years after murder

TWO brothers, who were arrested 16 years after committing a murder, were handed tough jail sentences, the Baoshan District police said yesterday.

A 24-year-old woman, who saw her mother being brutally hacked to death when she was only eight years old, identified the killers 16 years after the incident when they were caught.

Heng Dejun, who committed the murder, was given the death sentence with reprieve, while his elder brother Heng Deli was given life imprisonment for robbery.

The girl’s family ran a grocery shop in Baoshan District.

They lived in the store which had two rooms and an attic.

Her father, surnamed Yan, was out of town on that unfortunate July night in 1997, leaving the shop in the care of her mother,  surnamed Zhang.

Zhang and her daughter heard knocks on the roller-shutter door of the shop in the night when they were about to go to sleep.

Zhang opened the door and found it was the Heng brothers who often bought cigarettes from her store. After she turned to get them the cigarette packets, Heng Deli pulled down the shutters from inside, while Heng Dejun stabbed Zhang to death with a knife.

The girl, who was in the attic, cried out when she heard her mother’s cries. But she lost consciousness as she was pushed to the floor by Heng Deli, who tried to strangle her.

The murder was reported to police by a female customer who saw the brothers rushing out of the shop and fleeing. 

Police said Zhang’s jewelry and 10,000 yuan (US$1,641) were stolen.

Yan rushed back after getting a call from police. He said the brothers were migrants who often had disputes with them over owed debts.

Although police managed to sketch the portraits of the suspects based on the girl’s and other witnesses’ description, they were never caught as there were no DNA technology or surveillance cameras at that time.

A few years ago, police received a call from a drunk man who claimed he knew the murderers but would only give them information if he was given 100,000 yuan. The call was made from outside Shanghai, and police were unable to trace him.


But a call from Jiangsu Province police led to a breakthrough in the case.

They said they had some information which could offer clues about the murder, and shared it with Baoshan police.

The two killers were later caught in Jiangsu Province.

To make sure they had got the right men, local police officers asked the girl, now a 24-year-old woman, to identify them.

She confirmed that they were the two brothers who broke into the shop and killed her mother 16 years ago.

The two admitted that they robbed the store and killed Zhang to get their hands on the money.

The brothers said they had lived in fear since committing the crime, and a few years ago received an anonymous letter, demanding 100,000 yuan in hush money.

They ignored the letter but lived in nightmare since then.



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