Last Updated on December 28, 2023, 9:09 am
Gao Ting, a bright 15-year-old student at Linshu Second Middle School, went missing on January 10, 2005. She was found dead after a month-long search in a locked, unused boys’ bathroom.
What happened to Gao Ting?
Gao Ting was a bright young student at Linshu Second Middle School and the daughter of a well-known local businessman. She was born in Linshu County, Shandong Province, China, in March 1989. On January 10, 2005, she went missing after being excused from a morning workout at school due to a cold.
Her disappearance came to light after she did not attend her scheduled lunch breaks or classes or return home. Her concerned father went to school, but no one in her class had seen her, prompting a campus search, but she was nowhere to be found.
On February 11, during preparations to reopen the school after winter break, a 60-year-old maintenance worker, Li Zhenmei, and his apprentice, Li Zhenhua, discovered Gao’s lifeless body one month after her disappearance in a disused boys’ restroom that had been locked since 2004.
The investigations revealed signs of struggle, with blood and hair near the body. An autopsy report revealed that Gao had been a victim of mechanical suffocation. She had injuries on her head, cuts inflicted post-mortem, and signs of violation. Her case was ruled a murder.
Due to the cold weather, her body had been well-preserved despite the passage of a month. The investigators determined her time of death as January 10.
In the aftermath of the heart-wrenching event, the law enforcement agencies and the judicial system failed to do justice to the innocent 15-year-old who became a victim of a heinous crime. After the investigation, a boy named Zhang Zhichao and Wang Guangcho was convicted and sentenced by a court to life and for three years, respectively.
Zhang’s family appealed to the Supreme Court to reopen the case, which was granted after a long legal battle. In 2020, after the provisional court hearing, it was determined that Zhang had been wrongfully convicted due to the absence of DNA, fingerprints, or any physical evidence linking him to the crime. Zhang was acquitted of all charges after serving 13 years in prison, along with Wang Guangcho, who had received a three-year sentence, on the grounds that Police had obtained his confession by torturing him, lack of evidence, and contradicting testimonies. Gao’s family accepted the verdict.
In 2022, twelve officials, including forensic investigators, police officers, and judges, were held accountable and faced consequences for their roles in the wrongful convictions. As of 2023, her case remains a mystery as the criminal who committed heinous atrocities against her remains at large. Gao’s family still awaits closure as the legal system vows to deliver justice.
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