China's 'Jack the Ripper' captured

BEIJING • Police believe they have captured a serial killer dubbed China's "Jack the Ripper" - for the way he mutilated several of his 11 woman victims - nearly three decades after the first murder.

Gao Chengyong, 52, was detained at the grocery store he runs with his wife in Baiyin, in the north-west province of Gansu, the China Daily said. It added that he had confessed to 11 murders in Gansu and the neighbouring region of Inner Mongolia between 1988 and 2002.

Gao allegedly targeted young women wearing red and followed them home to rape and kill them, often cutting their throats and mutilating their bodies. The youngest victim was eight years old.

Some victims also had their reproductive organs removed, reported the Beijing Youth Daily.

"The suspect has a sexual perversion and hates women," police said in 2004, when they linked the crimes for the first time and offered a reward of 200,000 yuan for information leading to an arrest. "He's reclusive and unsociable, but patient," the police said at the time.

The original Jack the Ripper was a Victorian-era serial killer in east London, who is believed to have murdered five women. The killings have never been solved.

Gao was identified after a relative was put under house arrest in Baiyin over allegations of a minor crime and had his DNA collected and tested, the China Daily said.

Police concluded the killer they had been hunting for 28 years was a relation, and Gao's DNA matched the murderer's, it added.

Miscarriages of justice are not rare in China, where force is sometimes used to extract confessions. In recent years, China has exonerated wrongfully executed or jailed convicts after others came forward to confess their crimes or, in some cases, because the murder victim was found alive.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2016, with the headline 'China's 'Jack the Ripper' captured'. Print Edition | Subscribe