An alleged serial killer, that terrorized northern China for over a decade and even became known as China’s very own “Jack the Ripper” was arrested earlier this week at grocery store that he runs alongside his wife in Baiyin, Gansu province.
52-year-old Gao Chengyong admitted to raping and murdering 11 women between 1988 and 2002. Police say that he targeted young women who dressed in red and lived alone. He would follow them home, rape them, and kill them. To earn Jack the Ripper comparisons, Gao would often slash the throat of his victims and mutilate their bodies, including cutting off parts of their reproductive organs.
The killings terrified local women, who refused to go outside without a male escort. Gao’s youngest victim was just 8 years old.
The crimes were first linked in 2004. “The suspect has a sexual perversion and hates women. He’s reclusive and unsociable, but patient,” police said at the time while announcing a 200,000 yuan reward for information leading to his arrest. However, no promising leads came forward.
But, earlier this year, police decided to re-open the case, using new technology to re-examine DNA evidence from the crime scenes. And then, they got lucky. Gao’s uncle was arrested for a minor crime. The DNA sample that he provided indicated that one of his relatives was responsible for the gruesome murders, China Daily reports.
Police began investigating and eventually zeroed in on Gao, who was registered as living in his own hometown, Qingcheng, 120 km away from Baiyin. Gao was now 52 years old. He had found work at a local vocational school and was the father of two.
In 1988, when his first son was born, Gao carried out his first murder, stabbing a 23-year-old woman 26 times and slashing her throat inside her own home. Gao told police that he killed the woman because she had caught him during a robbery attempt.
The New York Times reports that Gao’s first son never really knew his father — meeting him only once — but was shocked to hear what his dad had done.
“I didn’t know what to say, or how to deal with it,” he said. “I’ve accepted the fact, but I cannot understand why he did it.”
According to SCMP, one of Gao’s cousins said that Gao had taken good care of his paralyzed father in the 1980s. Gao’s younger son said that his father had suffered through a bitter youth. His dream of becoming a pilot fell through because of “political reasons.”
As usual with these kind of cases, Gao’s neighbors were utterly shocked by what he had done. China.org reports that locals described Gao as an introverted, honest and silent man, who loved gambling, dogs and dancing. “He never revealed what he really meant when he talked. But I never knew he hid so much,” one neighbor said.
Another neighbor revealed that Gao once spoke to him about the urban legends surrounding the serial killer of Baiyin, but said that he never could have imagined that Gao was the murderer.
There are no indications yet as to why the murders stopped after 2002.