BEIJING • A serial killer dubbed China's "Jack the Ripper" for the way he mutilated several of his 11 female victims was sentenced to death yesterday, three decades after the first murder.
Gao Chengyong, 53, robbed, raped and ultimately murdered 11 female victims, prosecutors from Baiyin City in north-west Gansu province said.
He was found guilty by the Baiyin City Intermediate People's Court and handed death sentences for both robbery and intentional homicide, and lesser sentences for rape and dishonouring corpses.
Gao targeted young women wearing red and followed them home, often cutting their throats and mutilating their bodies, according to state media reports. The youngest victim was eight years old.
Some victims had their reproductive organs removed, the Beijing Youth Daily said when Gao was arrested in 2016. The court found Gao guilty of those crimes.
"To satisfy his perverted desire to dishonour and sully corpses, many of his female victims' corpses were damaged and violated," the court said in a post to its official Weibo social media account.
"The motives of the defendant's crimes were despicable, his methods extremely cruel, the nature of the acts vile and the details of the crimes serious," the court said.
Gao "poses a grave threat to society and an urgent danger to others and should be severely punished".
The murders were carried out in Gansu and the neighbouring region of Inner Mongolia from 1988 to 2002.
Police had been hunting Gao for years. "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," according to the police profiling at the time.
A lead in the case came when police collected and tested the DNA of one of Gao's relatives over a separate minor crime, according to the China Daily.
Police concluded the killer they had been hunting for 28 years was a relation, and Gao's DNA matched the murderer's, it added.
The original Jack the Ripper was a serial killer active in east London in the late Victorian era, who is widely believed to have murdered five women, mutilating several of them. Those killings have never been solved.
Gao was stripped of all of his assets and would not appeal the death sentence, the court said.