Changhua City: Crowds gathered around the home of a man suspected to have sexually assaulted and murdered his 5 year old niece, while a vigilante group vandalized and broke into the house after rumors circulated on social media that the man had been released on bail.
The suspect, who has not been named in media reports, was charged with attempted murder, after a girl was taken to a hospital after being beaten into a coma May 23. The charge was later changed to homicide after the girl died later that day. It was also revealed that the girl’s injuries included signs of sexual assault.
See previous article: Man Charged with Attempted Murder of 5 year-old Girl.
Rumors that the suspect had been released on bail began to circulate on Facebook yesterday evening, May 24. At around 9:00pm a call went out to gather at the house to grab the man. Around 300 people turned up, some of whom threw ghost money around the courtyard of the house. Some media outlets put the number of people as high as 500 people. Some had traveled from Taichung City.
At least three men were arrested this morning after smashing windows, and breaking into the house and smashing furniture and other property with baseball bats. Red paint was also reported to have been splashed around the house. The whole scene was broadcast live on Facebook.
The crowd then moved on to the Tianwei Police Station, hooting, shouting, and setting off fire crackers, as police surrounded the station to keep the crowd out. The police officers pleaded with the angry mob, attempting to assure them that the suspect had not been released, and that bail had not been posted. However, some people continued to clamor, and refused to leave the scene until around midnight.
Similar scenes were repeated again this morning as prosecutors went to the mortuary to conduct an autopsy on the victim. A crowd gathered outside the entrance of the building, many dressed in black, after a rumor spread on Facebook that the suspect would be brought to the mortuary. The crowd planned to block the suspect and teach him a lesson.
Around 60 police guarded the entrance of the mortuary.