SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The attorney for Zhifan Dong‘s family, a University of Utah student who was murdered in February, allegedly by her boyfriend, said even though Dong’s life was cut short, in her 19 years of living, she enjoyed a rich and fulfilling life.
Attorney Brian Stewart said her family reached out to him after learning his practice handled another case involving a Utah student who had been murdered.
That case involved Lauren McCluskey, a University of Utah student who was murdered by a man she used to date in 2018. That lawsuit ended in a $13.5 million settlement.
The university released a new report on the events that happened leading up to Dong’s death and Stewart said the timeline shared by the university is what upset her family the most.
The timeline shows the university first learned about police arresting Dong’s boyfriend, Haoyu Wang, while issuing a protective order on January 14, around 30 days before police say Wang murdered Dong.
No lawsuit had been filed yet in the death of Dong, but Stewart said Dong’s family wants to make a change and for the events that happened to be acknowledged in a real way. They do not want her death to be in vain.
Below is the full statement Dong’s family shared about their daughter:
“She liked music and sports. To keep fit, she learned to ski, jump rope and playing the spinning top, and took classes to learn yoga and swimming. She was very capable. She taught herself how to make seals, bracelets and earrings, and knitting sweaters and scarves. She planted a lot of flowers, not only buying finished potted flowers, but also buying seeds, soil, fertilizer, flower pots, and planting them by herself.
The building at home was not well lit, so she went to her grandmother’s yard to open up a piece of land, and planted flowers and trees. She liked animals. Under her suggestion, she raised dogs and cats at home. Before studying abroad, she took care of the dogs and cats by herself.
Looking back on the past, she was a person with so many respectable traits. She won the praise and trust of her classmates and friends, the love and care of her relatives. All of which make people miss her. Although her life was short, in these short nineteen years, she lived a rich and fulfilling life. We will miss our daughter so very much.”