Chinese Nanny Sentenced to Death for Setting Fatal Fire
Mo Huanjing, a nanny who worked for a wealthy family in Hangzhou, China, was sentenced to death yesterday after setting a fatal fire that killed a mother and her three children (ages 4, 7, and 10). The father Lin Shengbin, who lost his whole family in the tragedy, praised the court’s action in his blog, writing “The devil finally got punished by the law.”
Like many well-off urban middle-class families, Lin Shengbin and Zhu Xiaozhen hired a live-in nanny to do housekeeping and help take care of the children. They did not know that Mo, the nanny they hired in 2016, worked only to repay a heavy debt resulting from her gambling addiction.
After having lost 60,000 Yuan (about $9,480) on online gambling on June 21st of last year, Mo conceived of an idea to gain Zhu’s gratitude in order to borrow more money. The next day, Mo searched “how to set a fire” on the internet and purposefully lit fire to the books in the living room.
The original plan was to set a small, controlled fire which Mo would then heroically put out herself. However, when the fire grew out of control and ignited the curtains and couch, Mo fled the scene. The whole apartment eventually burned down, and Zhu and her three sleeping children were all killed in the fire. Their father Lin was away on a business trip when the fire happened.
The brutal tragedy enraged the Chinese public, and a calling for Mo to receive the death sentence went viral on Chinese social media. During Mo’s trial, she expressed remorse in a letter stating “If my death will make everything start over again, I’m willing to be sentenced to death.”
“I’ve been tortured day and night for more than 200 days. Today, there is finally resolution,” Lin wrote in his blog titled “Wife and Children in Heaven”. The court called Mo’s motive “despicable,” stating that she had “seriously damaged public security and caused social harm.” Although Mo confessed that she intentionally started the fire, which could have granted her some leniency under the law, it was not enough to avoid the death sentence in this case according to Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court court.
This tragic case caused waves of discussion in Chinese society about trust, greed, and family. People felt heartbroken reading the story of Lin, the entrepeurneur who worked hard to support his family. When Lin finally had become successful and offered his wife and children a happy home, his life was destroyed by a fire. “If she died 100 times it wouldn’t be enough,” a user wrote on Weibo, a microblogging platform in China.
According to Lin, he and Zhu treated Mo very kindly and would lend her money when she needed it. Many media called the case “a modern version of ‘The Farmer and the Viper.’”