Suspect arrested in 'suspicious death' of U of U student

Posted at 7:11 AM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 14:09:30-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A man was arrested Friday in connection to the suspicious death of a University of Utah international graduate student found inside a Salt Lake City motel room.

After receiving information from university police of a possible suicide or homicide case, the Salt Lake City Police Department responded to the Quality Inn at 616 South 200 West. When officers entered the motel room, they found an unresponsive 19-year-old woman and a man later identified as Haoyu Wang.

Despite attempts to render aid, paramedics determined Zhifan Dong was already deceased.

During their investigation, police say Wang, 26, claimed he and Dong had intended to commit suicide together with heroin and fentanyl.

When Dong vomited and became unresponsive with labored breathing, Wang told officers he injected her with a "high dose of heroin with the intent to kill her and relive her suffering." After injecting the heroin, Wang said Dong died.

University police said they were made aware of an email sent by Wang stating that he had injected his girlfriend with drugs.

Police said Wang and Dong were in a "romantic relationship" and were living together at the time of her death.

In an online post, University of Utah officials mourned the loss of Dong and urged anyone in need of support to reach out to campus resources.

Wang was taken into custody and booked into jail on a charge of murder.