Death penalty not likely for Tong Shao’s alleged killer


The boyfriend of Tong Shao, the ISU student who went missing last fall and was later found dead, was arrested in China.

Eric Wirth

Xiangnan Li, the 24-year-old University of Iowa student who admitted to killing former ISU student Tong Shao in September 2014, will not likely see the death penalty in his native China, the Des Moines Register reported Monday.

Li admitted to killing Shao, who was his then-girlfriend, in court Wednesday. Janet Lyness, Johnson County attorney, said it is expected for Li to spend between 20 years to life in prison, but the death sentence is unlikely because he turned himself in. 

Shao’s body was found in the trunk of her car in an Iowa City apartment complex in September 2014. Nearly eight months later, Li, who fled to China, turned himself in to Chinese authorities. 

Shao was a student at Iowa State studying engineering before her death.