Chinese media recently reported the fascinating story of a young boy who, after witnessing his father’s murder at the hands of a neighbor, when he was 9-years-old, spent the next 17 years trying to catch the culprit.

Looking back on that fateful day of August 9th, 2000, Xiang Mingqian wishes he had never thrown that stone that eventually got his father killed… He was only 9 at the time, playing with his neighbor, Zhang Jun in a ditch, by the side of an old road in Changba Town, Zhenxiong County. Jun had thrown a stone into a puddle, and the splash had hit Xiang Mingqian, so he decided to return the favor by throwing an even bigger stone into the water. It was just a childish game, but the quarrel that erupted between the two boys would eventually involve both boys’ families and result in a tragic death…

After Xiang Mingqian and Zhang Jun got into a fight, the latter called his grandmother and she started pushing Xiang around a bit. The racket was overheard by Xiang’s older sister, who lived nearby, and she came out to see what was happening. Xiang’s sister, Xiang Mingxiang ended up being beaten by Jun’s family, and when she went home, she told her young husband what had happened.

While the neighborly conflict was happening, Xiang Mingqian’s parents were away to buy a new TV set. When they came home, the boy didn’t tell them anything, but as they were having dinner that night, his older sister stormed in and told her father that her husband had gone to Zhang Jun’s house to demand an explanation for her bruises. The boy’s father, Xiang Wenzhi, grabbed a flashlight, put on his coat and went to help his son-in-law.

Xiang Mingqian recalls seeing his father go into Zhang’s house, and then a couple of minutes later the light bulb going off. As everything went dark, he could hear his father’s screams as he was stabbed several times by several Zhang family members. Despite rushing him to the town hospital, Wenzhi’s wounds were too severe, and doctors could do nothing to save him. Even today, he can still remember his dying father saying he was cold and hungry…

Xiang Wenzhi’s family notified the local police about the killing that very night, but they only showed up at the scene of the crime the next morning. They called the subjects in for questioning, but made no arrests, and Zhang Mouqui, who had landed the killing blows, used this opportunity to escape. Shortly after, the police dropped the case, seeing they could no longer locate the main suspect.

After his father’s death, Xiang Mingqian’s life took a turn for the worse, as there was no one to support the family anymore. He started selling noodles to help put food on the table, and despite doing very well in school, he dropped out to dedicate his life to catching his father’s killer.

Unable to go on seeing his mother crying and knowing that his father’s killer was at large, probably enjoying his life, while theirs had become miserable, Mingqian decided it was up to him to set things right. His mother was to busy providing for them, his older brother was to too shy to go after a dangerous man, and his sister had her own family to worry about. There was no one else, so he started going by the local police station asking for information about Zhang Mouqui. In order to make the hunt easier, the family moved from Changba Town to the county capital when the boy was only 10-years-old.

Years went by, but despite Xiang Mingqian’s best efforts, the killer’s whereabouts remained unknown. Still, he never gave up, and in 2007, he received the first of three important tip-offs. Someone told him that a man who fit Zhang Mouqui’s description had been seen riding a motorcycle at at Kunming Railway Station. Xiang spent several days watching and checking every inch of the station, but didn’t find anything useful.

Then, in 2013, Xiang received information that Zhang might be hiding at an industrial park in Jinjiang, Fujian Province. Once again, he traveled there, but after six months of searching, he once again came out empty-handed. Finally, in 2017, after returning home, Xiang learned from a reliable source that Zhang Mouqui was hiding in Nan’an City, Fujian Province. It meant traveling thousands of kilometers again, but he didn’t care. He packed his bags and left.

Xiang had information that his father’s killer worked at a tableware factory on the outskirts of Nan’an City. He rented a car, asked around for information about the Zhang or the factory, and then spent days watching the entrance to the tableware factory. Mingqian spent three days watching the factory, and on the third day, after 17 long years, he finally saw Zhang Mouqui again.

He had been carrying a photo of his father’s killer around with him since that August day in 2000, and Zhang hadn’t changed that much, he was only a bit older. Xiang didn’t just pounce on the man that had ruined his life; instead, he asked around about him and learned that he had changed his name to Shao Liang, had met a woman, married her and even had a child.

After gathering all the evidence, including his father’s knife-pierced clothes, Xiang Mingqian finally went to the police, only instead of assistance, all he got was raised shoulders, as officers told him they had no record of a Zhang Mouqui . He later learned that back in Changba Town, authorities had erased Zhang  record in 2015, as his family had not heard from him in over a decade and a half. He was outraged, but there was no time to skulk. He contacted the relevant authorities and, based on his evidence, managed to obtain a warrant for Mouqui’s arrest.

On October 10, 2018, the Intermediate People’s Court of Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province, found Zhang Mouqui guilty of Xiang Wenzhi’s death and sentenced him to life in prison and the deprivation of political rights. After 17 years and 4 days, Xiang Mingqian had finally done what he had set out to do after his father’s death.

At 26-years-old, Xiang Mingqian is ready to finally start living his life. He has a girlfriend, but because of lack of time and money, he never even considered getting married. He reckons it’s time he finally gave that idea some serious thought…

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