U of U extends sympathy to family of slain 19-year-old student Zhifan Dong; offers support to domestic violence victims

File photo: University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 14, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — University of Utah Pres. Taylor R. Randall issued a statement on Monday expressing his sadness over the death of Zhifan Dong, a 19-year-old student from China.

Dong’s 26-year-old student boyfriend, Haoyu Wang, has been charged in the case. He told Salt Lake City police the two had a suicide pact which they attempted to carryout early Friday morning, according to a probable cause statement filed in the case.

Officers found Dong deceased in a downtown hotel room rented by Wang. He allegedly told police he had intentionally injected her with a lethal dose of drugs to ease her “suffering” during their joint-suicide attempt, which he survived.

Wang has since been charged with first-degree murder and is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail.

“This past Friday, we received news of the tragic death of one of our own, Zhifan Dong,” Randall said in his prepared statement. “Zhifan was a first-year undergraduate student from Anyang, Henan, China. I want to express my deepest sympathy to Zhifan’s family, friends and loved ones. Zhifan’s family will travel to Salt Lake City in the coming days and at that time we will consult with them as to the most appropriate way to remember and honor Zhifan.

“Along with many other students from her native country, Zhifan was a participant in one of the U’s global programs, known as Utah Global, which helps immerse first-year international students in the academic and cultural life of the university. We extend our support during this difficult time to all of our international students, particularly her peers in the Utah Global program.”

Randall wrote that police are still investigating Dong’s death and Wang’s admitted involvement, “and have indicated this was likely a domestic violence situation. I want to express my sincere thanks to the Salt Lake City Police Department and University Police for their hard work and professionalism on this case.

Randall offered University resources to students and employees in need of help, and included other resources that are available to the general public.

“If you are in need of support, I encourage you to access the campus resources that are listed on safeu.utah.edu, he wrote. “Local and national support is also available from the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) and the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).”


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