Mon, Nov 17, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Police arrest man for murder of 25 students in China

AFP , BEIJING

Police have arrested a man suspected of killing at least 25 high school students in central China over a two-year period, after luring them from Internet cafes and electronic gaming halls to his home in central Henan province, officials and Internet Web sites said yesterday.

Police in Pingyu County arrested the suspected killer Huang Yong, 29, on Nov. 12 after a 16-year-old boy who he had kidnapped escaped his home in Dahuangzhuang village, the official Henan News Net said on its Web site.

The boy reported his Nov. 7 kidnapping to police who arrested Huang, the report said.

After police found 18 bodies buried behind Huang's house, the suspected killer confessed to strangling 25 victims, it said.

Police in Pingyu County and in Dahuangzhuang village refused to confirm Huang's arrest or comment on the case, but a local official in Yuhuangmiao Township confirmed that Huang had been arrested and was being charged with murder.

Huang's arrest comes after police in neighboring Hebei Province arrested Wang Ganggang on Nov 2, as the leading suspect in what could be China's largest-ever serial murder case.

Wang, also a native of Henan Province, is suspected to have killed at least 65 people in Henan and neighboring, Hebei, Shandong and Anhui provinces, Xinhua news agency reported Friday on its Web site.

Central authorities appear to have placed a gag order on both murder cases, as information has only appeared on Web sites and not in Chinese dailies.

Refusals by officials and police to discuss the cases also appear to reflect official reluctance to comment on such extreme crimes until after they have solved them.

The parents of 13 missing boys had already set up a self-help group seeking the whereabouts of their missing children and had urged police to better patrol Internet cafes and gaming halls in the region.

Huang allegedly lured the boys to his home with offers of employment, then tied them up and strangled them with a rope, the report said.

The 16-year old boy, identified as Zhang Liang, was allegedly tortured by Huang, who choked the boy three times until he passed out, but did not kill him.

Mass murders have become increasingly common in China, due to what observers believe is a result of the country's rapidly changing socio-economic fabric which has seen a widening gap between the rich and poor, increased psychological stress on people and increasing mobility.

On Friday police said a Chinese man had confessed to raping at least 37 elderly women, some of them in their 90s, because he said they were "easy to control."

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