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Mingdong Chen, Chinese immigrant living in NYC, charged in stabbing deaths of 4 children and their mother

Mingdong Chen, a suspect in the murder of a five people in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood, is walked by police from the 66th precinct, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 in New York. The Chinese immigrant, who neighbors said struggled to survive in America, was arrested in the stabbing death Saturday night of his cousin's wife and her four children. AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano

Mingdong Chen, a suspect in the murder of a five people in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood, is walked by police from the 66th precinct, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 in New York. The Chinese immigrant, who neighbors said struggled to survive in America, was arrested in the stabbing death Saturday night of his cousin's wife and her four children.
Mingdong Chen, arrested in the murder of five people in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood, is walked by police from the 66th precinct, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 in New York.
AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano

Updated 1:46 p.m.

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - A Chinese immigrant did not enter a plea Monday after being charged in the stabbing deaths of his cousin's wife and her four young children at their Brooklyn Sunset Park home, according to CBS New York.

Mingdong Chen, 25, faces five counts of murder.

Police say Chen killed 9-year-old Linda Zhuo, 7-year-old Amy Zhuo, 5-year-old Kevin Zhuo,18-month-old William Zhuo and their mother, 37-year-old Qiao Zhen Li on Saturday night in their home.

The five "were cut and butchered with a kitchen knife," said Chief of Department Philip Banks III, the New York Police Department's highest-ranking uniformed member.

The victims died of stab wounds to their necks and torsos, and Chen has implicated himself in the killings, Banks said.

Chen had been staying with the family on the first floor of the two-story brick house for about a week.

He was unemployed after being fired from a string of restaurant jobs, according to neighbors and relatives in the working-class neighborhood dominated by a large community of immigrants from China.

Almost a decade after coming to the United States as a teenager, Chen was still fluent only in Mandarin Chinese, Banks said. Chen was apparently jealous of fellow immigrants' successes in America.

"He made a very soft comment that since he came to this country, everybody seems to be doing better than him," Banks said.

The children's father, his cousin, was at work at a Long Island restaurant when the killings took place Saturday evening, one neighbor said.

The mother tried to call him because she was alarmed about Chen's "suspicious" behavior earlier in the evening, Banks said.

When she couldn't reach her husband, Li called her mother-in-law in China, who also could not immediately reach her son. The mother-in-law then reached out to her daughter in the same Brooklyn neighborhood, Banks said.

The sister-in-law and her husband went to the house at about 11 p.m. and kept banging on the door until someone answered, police said.

It was Chen, "and they see that he's covered with blood," Banks said. "They don't know who this person is."

The couple fled, called 911, and detectives investigating another matter nearby responded quickly, Banks said.

Yuan Gao, a cousin of the mother, came by the house Sunday and stood on the tree-lined street with well-tended row houses, half a block from the neighborhood thoroughfare, its open air markets, Chinese restaurants and shops bustling with Sunday morning shoppers. Many walked over to the house, milling around and discussing the most horrible crime they could remember.

But almost none spoke English, and the few who did remained tight-lipped.

Some said that at Chen's last temporary home, days before the killings, late-night arguments were loud enough to be heard outside.

Gao said he had moved to the area recently and was staying with whoever would take him for brief periods of time. "He was bouncing around," said the NYPD's Banks.

Bob Madden, who lives a block away, was walking his dog on Saturday night when he saw the young man being taken away in a police cruiser.

"He was barefoot, wearing dungarees, and he was staring, he was expressionless," Madden said.

Banks said Chen had at first resisted arrest and, while being processed, assaulted a police officer.

Neighbor May Chan told the New York Daily News it was "heartbreaking" to learn of the deaths of children she often saw running around and playing.

"They run around by my garage playing. They run up and down screaming," Chan said.

"The father was freaking out," she said. "He just came home from work and saw the police and they told him. He was hysterical."

  • Crimesider Staff

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