Chinese police arrest suspected ‘Jack the Ripper’ serial killer

DNA tests identify man alleged to have raped and murdered 11 women over 14 years ago

Police in Gansu province have arrested a man local media have described as China’s answer to “Jack the Ripper”,suspected of raping, killing and mutilating 11 women and girls more than 14 years ago.

A quiet man known for his filial piety, Gao Chengyong (52) singled out young women dressed in red, pursuing them to their homes where they often lived alone before raping them and killing them by slashing their throats, police said.

He was picked up by police in the supermarket where he worked and where nine of the killings took place. The local ministry of public security say Mr Gao cut off body parts of the victims, and that the youngest victim was eight years old when she was murdered.

Police said Mr Gao had confessed to 11 murders in Gansu and in Baotou in the neighbouring province of Inner Mongolia between 1988 and 2002.


In 2004, police had posted a reward of 200,000 yuan (€27,000) for any information leading to his arrest.

“The suspect has a sexual perversion and hates women,” the police said back then. “He’s reclusive and unsociable, but patient.”

The police had DNA evidence, fingerprints and semen samples, but Mr Gao was not registered as living in Baiyin.

In March, the Criminal Investigation Bureau launched a new investigation into the murders using new technology.

After Mr Gao’s uncle was arrested for a minor crime, police noticed a match in the DNA and believed that the killer they had sought for so long was related to him.

The older of Mr Gao’s two sons told social media that he did “not really understand” why his father had carried out the crimes. Like many migrant workers’ children, he had limited access to his father, meeting him at Chinese New Year.

The Beijing News quoted Cui Xiangping, brother of one of the victims, Cui Jinping, saying he believed the case would never be solved. His sister was stabbed 22 times and her throat was cut in 1998, and she was dismembered.

There are relatively few examples of serial killers in China, despite the massive population, but there is evidence of a rising trend in the numbers of multiple killers, similar to that seen in the US in the 1960s and 1970s.

Yang Xinhai raped and murdered 67 people over a four-year period that ended with his execution in 2004, while a group of three men in Xi’an went on a 12-year killing spree of karaoke bar hostesses, prostitutes and housewives, during which victims’ bodies were burned in acid vats before they were apprehended in 2006.

In another case in Henan in central China, a man called Huang Yong killed up to 25 boys before he was caught.

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan, an Irish Times contributor, spent 15 years reporting from Beijing