Convicted murderer in China released from prison after “victim” is found alive

Zhao Zuohai, who served ten years of a 29-year sentence for murder in China, has been released from jail because his alleged victim, Zhao Zhensheng or Zhenshang (no relation) has been found alive and well. Zhensheng disappeared in 1997 after a fight with Zuohai. This isn’t really a murder-without-a-body case, though (the headlines made me believe it was), because in 1999 a headless body found in a local well was wrongly identified as Zhensheng’s.

Well, it seems Zhensheng’s head is still firmly attached to his body and, as for the actual dead guy whose decapitated corpse was in the well, no one knows who he is. Zuohai’s family claims he and his wife, who testified against him, were both tortured by the police. Scarily, Zuohai had originally been sentenced to death. This was later commuted because of good behavior. Ironically, it seems the reason Zhensheng ran off in the first place is because he thought he’d injured Zuohai so badly in their fight that he might face criminal prosecution.

The aforementioned article says there’s been at least one other case in China where a “murder victim” turned up alive after the conviction. According to Tad DiBiase, murder-without-a-body expert, the last time this happened in the US was in the 1800s.

Zuohai’s former wife (the one who brought false evidence against him in court) has remarried and her new husband has adopted their kids. I hope Zuohai is able to reconnect with his children. I hope the Chinese government apologizes and gives him a huge settlement for his troubles. That poor, miserably unlucky man.

I would like to think that such a terrible miscarriage of justice could not happen in America today. I think it’s much less likely to happen here than in China, because police torture is much less common here and because forensic techniques make it difficult to misidentify a body. But I will not pretend that American police never use physical coercion on suspects, and even with all our CSI stuff, bodies have been misidentified as recently as 2007.

The Times of London
Shanghai Daily (talks about Zhengsheng’s life while he was missing)
Xinhua News
The China Daily
The Associated Press
The Global Times

Raymond Lamar Green and other missing babies

I found this article about Raymond Lamar Green, who’s been missing for nearly thirty years. He was only five days old when he was kidnapped from his mom’s apartment. I’m sure he’s alive and well somewhere but I doubt that’s much consolation to his mother, who was only fifteen years old when she had him. (And he was her second child!) I had found an old Newslibrary article about the case, which spelled his middle name “Lymar.” This new article has a sketch of the abductor. I’m a bit skeptical as to its reliability, as it was only made recently — that is to say, they’re working off memories from 1978. But it’s better than nothing.

While we are speaking of abducted babies, I’ll list them all again. (From memory. I may have missed one or two.) I include babies two and a half or younger, only cases where it looks like the baby was abducted by a stranger and it doesn’t look like the baby is dead or that the parents were involved.

Melissa Suzanne Highsmith, one year and three months, missing from Fort Worth, Texas since 1971. Taken by a babysitter her mom hired.
Joseph Hurtado, one year and nine months, missing from El Paso, Texas since 1974. Disappeared from his front yard while his mom was washing the car.
David Ezell Blockett, two weeks, missing from Newport News, Virginia since 1980. Abducted by a woman claiming to be a social worker. She tricked David’s mom into letting her take David and his older brother, but let the brother go.
Megan Ginevicz, two years and three months, missing from St. Ignatius, Montana since 1980. She disappeared playing in her family’s yard and the cops thought she’d just gotten lost or eaten, but who knows? I saw some web posts by her father where he claimed she’d been kidnapped and he knew who had done it and where she was now. He claimed to know her new name too.
Curtis Mackeever Fair, two years and two months, missing from Nampa, Idaho since 1980. Like Megan, he disappeared playing in his family’s yard in a rural area.
Shannon Patrick Ketron, eight months, missing from Cordell, Oklahoma since 1982. Unusual circumstances: mom says while she was parked on the roadside, a strange man knocked her unconscious and snatched Shannon.
Vinyette Trudy Teague, one year and six months, missing from Chicago, Illinois since 1983. Abducted during a party at her family’s apartment building.
Sean Wayne Evans, two years and five months, missing from Watertown, New York since 1984. The police thought he’d fallen into a nearby river, but there’s no hard evidence either way.
Donel Jacoby Minor, two months, missing from Inglewood, California since 1984. He was abducted by a man who posed as a photographer. He actually took pictures of Donel and left, then came back a few days later saying he had the proofs. He disappeared with Donel while Mom was in the other room.
Marlene Santana, three days, missing from New York City since 1985. Kidnapped at gunpoint just after her mom left the hospital with her.
Christopher Enoch Abeyta, seven months, missing from Colorado Springs, Colorado since 1986. The cops seem to think his parents did it, though there really isn’t much evidence towards any particular theory. He is six weeks younger than me.
Carlina Renae White, three weeks, missing from New York City since 1987. Taken from a hospital, where she was being treated for a high fever.
Vivian Paola Montanez Castellanos, one year and ten months, missing from Cucuta, Colombia since 1988. She was kidnapped for ransom. Her parents paid but Vivian was never returned. One of the kidnappers later said she’d been sold for adoption, possibly to the US, which is why she is on Charley.
Aaron Mitchell Anderson, one year and nine months, missing from Pine City, Minnesota since 1989. The police focused on an accidental drowning theory and never really investigated any other possibilities.
Andre Terrance Bryant, one month, missing from New York City since 1989. His abductors killed his mother to get him.
Shane Anthony Walker, one year and eight months, missing from New York City since 1989.
Christopher Milton Dansby, two years and two months, missing from New York City since 1989. He disappeared from the same park as Shane and was last seen in the company of the same two kids. In spite of this, the police don’t seem to think the cases are related.
Tavish Sutton, one month, missing from Atlanta, Georgia since 1993. Like Carlina he was taken from a hospital, where he was recovering from an operation.
Sabrina Paige Aisenberg, four months, missing from Valrico, Florida since 1997. In spite of all the controversy, I think her parents were completely innocent of involvement in her case.
Allyson Kathleen Dalton, two months, missing from Strasburg, Virginia since 1998. Abducted by whoever killed her mother. For some reason this case has never gotten much press attention.
Kamiyah Mobley, missing from Jacksonville, Florida since 1998. Abducted from the hospital just hours after birth.
Jacqueline Vasquez, three months, missing from Avondale, Arizona since 2001. Abducted from a swap meet while Mom was in the bathroom.
Bryan Dos Santos-Gomes, three weeks, missing from Fort Myers, Florida since 2006. Abducted by a woman who tricked Bryan’s mother into her car by asking for directions.

There’s every chance in the world that all of these children are alive and well today, but there’s also every chance that we will never know.