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June 24, 2010

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Life term for killing, chopping employer

THE domestic helper who killed her employer, an 89-year-old professor, and dismembered his body was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday.

Judges of Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court said Fang Huifen, 58, got a lenient punishment because she was diagnosed with a slight mental disease and should bear limited criminal liability.

Fang told the court that she killed the professor, with whom she had lived for nearly 20 years, because he broke promises to marry her and give her 1 million yuan (US$146,840).

Fang was hired as a domestic helper by Shao Wangyu in 1990. Shao was a professor at Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade and enjoyed a lofty reputation in the field of international trade.

He lived alone after his wife died and his only daughter lived abroad.

Shao treated Fang well and even looked on her as his wife. Sometimes they took walks hand in hand in the community. In the eyes of the neighbors, they weren't simply employer and domestic helper.


"He called me laopo (meaning wife in Chinese) in daily life and neighbors also thought we were a couple," Fang said on the court hearing.

Fang was twice hospitalized for mental diseases during the period and each time Shao went to take her back home, though his friends all tried to persuade him to hire a different helper.

Fang gradually viewed herself to be the woman of the house and began to interfere in Shao's private affairs.

She quarreled with Shao several times when Shao wanted to sell his apartment and move to the Gubei area.

"He promised to give 1 million yuan after he sold the apartment. But I got only 200,000 yuan," Fang told the court. "He also pledged to marry me and we even took wedding photos."

But Shao didn't fulfil his two promises, according to Fang, though she provided no evidence.

Last August 5, Fang and Shao fought about affairs at home. As the conflict heated up, Fang strangled the old man to death and dismembered his body.

She went back her home town in Jiangsu Province afterwards. Fang said she couldn't remember why she dismembered the victim. She said she regretted it now.


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