• Spain's news in English

Scammer kills herself after daughter's kidnap

Alex Dunham · 9 Apr 2014, 10:48

Published: 09 Apr 2014 10:48 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The 40-year-old woman was getting used to her new suburban life in San Sebastián de los Reyes, a town on the outskirts of Madrid.

She’d escaped the nationwide manhunt she and her husband faced after cheating dozens of young couples and retirees out of their savings by selling them homes that didn’t actually belong to them.

Aside from the international arrest warrant a Chinese judge had issued, four men, presumed criminals, had taken it upon themselves to find the family of con artists.

It may never have been possible had it not been for an iPad given to Lili Dai’s daughter as a symbol of gratitude for the sale of one of the houses, Spanish daily El País reported.

The device’s tracking application helped the disgruntled ‘homeowners’ locate the family in Madrid and on March 4th 2013 the four men knocked on the door of the apartment where Lili Dai had moved her other relatives into.

“The men say they want the money, that they aren’t going to kill us,” Lili Dai’s daughter texted her mother, who was in the other family household in San Sebastián de los Reyes.

“I don’t know why these men are here, mother, save me.”

The kidnapped girl had had her mobile taken away by the kidnappers, but she managed to keep in touch with her mother via a gaming site with an email service.

“They want €3 million, but don’t come, they want to kill you,” the family grandmother wrote six days after being taken hostage.

Lili Dai and her husband Zhiwei Chen, a former monk, were so demoralized by the situation that they decided to take their own lives with what they thought would be a lethal overdose.

But when Zhiwei Chen survived the suicide attempt, he discovered his wife had hanged herself from the showerhead.

“I am going to die unjustly,” read the note she left behind.

The grieving husband then contacted José Luis Martínez, a real estate agent in Murcia he had done business with. 

He in turn contacted Madrid police, who then proceeded to free the family and arrest the four kidnappers.

Story continues below…

They are still in custody in Spain’s capital while a provincial court looks into the incident.

Initially, Chinese authorities requested Lili Dai’s husband and mother should also be held.

They have since been released and are awaiting extradition to their home country once Chinese authorities confirm they won’t be serving more than eight years in jail, the sentence they would serve in Spain.  

Don't miss stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter


Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Russia withdraws request to refuel warships in Ceuta
The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was due to dock in Ceuta

Russia has withdrawn a request for its aircraft carrier group to be refuelled at the Spanish port of Ceuta, authorities confirmed.

Bulls replace guard dogs at scrap yard in Valencia
Two bulls will be patrolling the scrap yard in eastern Spain. Archive photo: AFP

Guard dogs were not proving enough of a deterrent to thieves at a car breakers yard in eastern Spain so the owner has brought in a pair of fighting bulls.

Two-headed shark born in Spanish laboratory
Scientists are studying the rare find. Photo: IBIMA / University of Malaga

Scientists at the University of Malaga found the embryo of a shark with two heads and just one body.

Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Spain's Rajoy says king has tasked him with forming govt
Photo: AFP

Spain's king on Tuesday tasked Mariano Rajoy with forming a government, taking the acting conservative prime minister a step closer to power again after a 10-month political deadlock.

Two imams arrested in Ibiza resort over 'Isis support'
The men were arrested in the resort of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Photo: Jose A / Flickr

Two Moroccan imams at a mosque on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of backing the Islamic State group and inciting jihad.

Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available