Karen Zhou

Left: Karen circa, 1994

Right: Age Progressed to age 17

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: May 21, 1994

Missing From: Grenada, Grenada County, Mississippi

Classification: Non-Family Abduction

Date Of Birth: July 4, 1983

Age: 10 years old

Height and Weight: 4’5″ and 61 pounds

Distinguishing Characteristics: Asian Female, Black hair, Brown eyes, Karen has a white colored circular mark on one of her legs, she spoke both English and Chinese at the time of her 1994 disappearance but her English was limited

Clothing/Jewelry Description: A white t-shirt and a pair of shorts

NCMEC Number: 790848

Details of Disappearance

Karen was last seen in Grenada, Mississippi on May 21st 1994. She was last seen leaving the River Hill Apartments on Monroe Street at 6:30 pm to go outside and play. She got permission from her stepfather, Shindong He, to do so. He was reportedly the last person to see Karen before her disappearance. He claimed he lost track of time and didn’t notice Karen was missing until 11:00 pm.

He said he went outside to look for her but she wasn’t anywhere near or on the apartment complex. Karen’s mother, Wen Hua Zhou, was at work during the day of her daughters disappearance and didn’t get home until 12:00 am. She and her husband called the police to report Karen as a missing child. Karen was never seen or heard from again

Extensive searches of the area revealed no signs of Karen or her remains. Investigators believe Karen may have been abducted. During the afternoon of her disappearance, two children who knew Karen reportedly saw her getting into a van with a tall Asian man outside of a Grenada store. This is the last confirmed sighting of Karen that afternoon.

Investigators initially believed Karen’s biological father might have been involved in her abduction but this was immediately ruled out. He was in China in 1994 when his daughter went missing and Wen Hua said Karen had not heard from him in years and they didn’t even exchange letters with one another. He was ruled out as a suspect in the initial stages of the investigation.

Wen Hua’s American name is “May” and she worked at The Grand Palace Chinese Restaurant in 1994. Shindong did computer work for Walmart at the time of his stepdaughters disappearance. Wen Hua had limited English skills at the time of her daughters disappearance. She along with the community of Grenada were absolutely devastated by Karen’s presumed abduction.

In October of 1994, investigators considered kidnapping suspect, Phillip Dean Fleming, as a possible suspect in Karen’s disappearance. On September 12th 1994, Fleming kidnapped eight year old Santana Renee Boyd from Bramlett Elementary School in Oxford, Mississippi. He released her at a McDonalds Restaurant in Jackson, Tennessee.

Fleming is also suspected of three attempted abductions in central Mississippi the day before Boyd was kidnapped. He was also wanted in Lexington, South Carolina for sexually assaulting a twelve year old girl on August 21st 1994. He was located in Florida in October of 1994 and was using an alias at the time. His identity was confirmed though fingerprints after he was arrested for auto theft.

Investigators simply wanted to speak with him about Karen’s case. They had no evidence that he was in the area when Karen’s abduction occurred and it’s unknown if he’s still considered a suspect in Karen’s abduction.

Shindong He is considered the primary suspect in Karen’s disappearance. He refused to take a polygraph exam regarding the case and Karen’s teachers at her school told police that Karen would always show up to school with bruises.

He was later convicted of aggravated assault. The victim in that case was Wen Hua, Shindong allegedly jumped on her while they were at a motel in Nashville, Tennessee. During the incident, Shindong admitted to killing Karen. She reported the admission to police but Shindong denied it.

Shindong was subsequently deported back to China due to his aggravated assault conviction. Investigators stated his deportation had nothing to do with Karen’s disappearance but they believe Shindong probably murdered Karen on the day she went missing. Investigators have noted they have no actual proof of Shindong’s involvement and he’s never been charged with a crime.

At the time of her disappearance, Karen was a student at Lizzie Horn Elementary School. She was described as a kind girl by her friends and was reportedly a good student who loved being at school. Karen was still learning English at the time but she had a good performance otherwise. Karen and her mother moved to Grenada in February of 1992. she had a younger 16 month old brother at the time of her disappearance.

Karen’s disappearance remains unsolved. She is believed to have been the victim of a homicide and her disappearance continues to be classified as a non-family abduction.

Suspect Information:

Image: Phillip Fleming circa, 1994

Investigating Agency

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Grenada Police Department 601-226-1211

Source Information

For The Lost

The Charley Project

The Doe Network


Unidentified Wiki

Clarion-Ledger 05/24/1994

Clarion-Ledger 12/26/1998

Clarion-Ledger 10/28/1994

Clarion-Ledger 06/13/1994

Orlando Sentinel 10/09/1994