A Chinese immigrant who neighbours said struggled to survive in America was arrested on Sunday on five counts of murder in the stabbing deaths of his cousin’s wife and her four children in their Brooklyn home - using a butcher knife.
The suspect, 25-year-old Mingdong Chen, implicated himself in the killings late on Saturday, police said.
“They were cut and butchered with a kitchen knife,” said Chief of Department Philip Banks III.
Two girls, 9-year-old Linda Zhuo and 7-year-old Amy Zhuo, were pronounced dead at the scene, along with the youngest child, 1-year-old William Zhuo. Their brother, 5-year-old Kevin Zhuo, and 37-year-old mother, Qiao Zhen Li, were taken to hospitals, where they were pronounced dead.
Chen is a cousin of the children’s father and had been staying at the home for the past week or so, Banks said. He came to the United States from China in 2004 and seemingly struggled to make it, Banks said.
“Ever since he came to this country, everybody seems to be doing better than him,” he said.
On Saturday night, Chen had apparently been acting in such a way that concerned Li, Banks said. She tried to call her husband, who wasn’t home, but couldn’t reach him.
Banks said Li called her mother-in-law in China, who also was unsuccessful in reaching her son. The mother-in-law reached out to her daughter, who lives in the neighbourhood, Banks said.
She and her husband came to the house and banged on the door, then called police.
“It’s a scene you’ll never forget,” Banks said. The victims had wounds in their necks and torsos.
Chen was in custody. He also faces counts of assault on a police officer, which happened while he was being processed, and resisting arrest, Banks said.
Bob Madden, who lives nearby, saw a man being escorted from the building by police. He was barefoot, wearing jeans, and “he was staring, he was expressionless,” Madden said.
The working-class neighbourhood has a large Chinese community.