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University of Utah student found dead at Salt Lake hotel identified

Police on Monday released the name of a University of Utah student from China who died on Friday after her boyfriend allegedly injected her with drugs as part of an apparent suicide pact.

Police on Monday released the name of a University of Utah student from China who died on Friday after her boyfriend allegedly injected her with drugs as part of an apparent suicide pact. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Police on Monday released the name of a University of Utah student who died during an apparent suicide pact with her boyfriend.

Zhifan Dong, 19, of Anyan, China, was found unresponsive in a Salt Lake City hotel Friday after being injected by drugs purchased by her boyfriend off the dark web, according to police.

Haoyu Wang, 26, who is from China but attending the U., was arrested for investigation of murder. As of Monday, formal criminal charges had not been filed.

Salt Lake police were called to the Quality Inn Downtown, 616 S. 200 West, just before 6 a.m. Friday, as part of a welfare check investigation. Wang sent an email to a staff member at the U. that "stated that he injected his girlfriend, Dong, with heroin to relieve her from suffering. The email indicated that both would be dead when they were found," according to a police booking affidavit. Police said the couple had been living together.

University police pinged Wang's cellphone, which led them to the downtown hotel, the affidavit states. Salt Lake police were called to the the hotel to assist with the investigation. At the hotel, police found Dong deceased in a room.

Wang told police he killed Dong and "attempted to kill himself by reportedly injecting himself with drugs," police said. He stated that the couple "intended to commit suicide together. He ordered heroin and fentanyl on the darknet. He and the victim both snorted heroin," according to the affidavit.

Dong became unresponsive after taking heroin, the affidavit says.

"Haoyu then injected her with a high dose of heroin with the intent to kill her and relieve her suffering. After injecting the victim, Haoyu said that she died. Haoyu then injected himself with heroin and remained in the room with the victim until police arrived," police wrote in the affidavit.

On Monday, U. President Taylor Randall released a statement regarding Dong, a first-year undergraduate student.

"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."

Randall said Dong was a participant in the Utah Global program, 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 stated.

Domestic violence resources

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting:

Utah Domestic Violence Coalition: Utah's confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic violence hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465)

YWCA Women in Jeopardy program: 801-537-8600

Utah's statewide child abuse and neglect hotline: 1-855-323-DCFS (3237)

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Additional crisis hotlines:

Utah County Crisis Line: 801-226-4433

Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000

Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393

National Suicide Prevention Crisis Text Line: Text "HOME" to 741-741

Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources:

Live On, NAMI Utah, Utah Chapter-American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Safe UT Crisis Text and Tip Line

In an emergency

Call the police

Go to the emergency room

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Utah police and courtsSalt Lake CountyUtahPolice & Courts
Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021 after many years of reporting for the Deseret News


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