The baby’s aunt cries after she is informed of the child’s death.
A two day, city-wide manhunt in Changchun, Jilin province, has ended in tragedy after a baby stolen along with an SUV was found murdered. A 48 year old man handed himself in, and later confessed to the kidnapping and murder.
The baby’s father, identified in news reports only by his last name Xu, had left the baby in the rear seat of his Toyota RAV4 and his key in the ignition while he went inside the supermarket he worked at for just a moment, but found both car and baby gone when he came out.
On Tuesday evening, Zhou Xijun, a 48 year old local resident, handed himself in at a Changchun police station. He confessed to strangling the baby and burying it in the snow by a country road after he stole the car. Police say Zhou initially did not realise the baby was in the car when he stole it.
Within an hour of the police’s announcement, internet users had posted more than 60,000 messages mourning the child on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo. Some issued angry calls to give Zhou the death penalty.
Earlier, authorities said that more than 10,000 police officers had fanned out on a massive manhunt that extended to neighbouring Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia .
The abandoned SUV was found yesterday morning outside the Yingchengzi Elementary School in Yongfa township.
A candlelit vigil was held in Changchun on Tuesday night for the murdered two-month old, whose body has yet to be recovered.
The story of the missing child gripped the nation, dominating discussion on Weibo and other social media. Many expressed anger that the father of the child had left it unattended in an unlocked car with the engine running. The father said that he had gone into his shop to turn the heating on and left the baby in the car so that it would not get cold in the freezing winter temperatures.
There was outrage online when a blogger leaked an alleged government decree ordering all Jilin media to cover the story “positively”:
转：长春baby遇害案 禁令截图 twitter.com/knifepoint/sta…
— Valerie / 浅洚 (@knifepoint) March 5, 2013
The story shouldn’t be bigger than half a page on newspapers. TV channels shall not run featured long reports.
Reports should criticise the killer and highlight the positive efforts made by the police.
No questioning or finger-pointing of the police is allowed. Don’t criticise the city’s surveillance grid [known as sky-net in Chinese].
The baby’s mother had a heart attack when she was informed of her child’s death, she is currently in a local Changchun hospital, according to state media.