Chinese authorities suspect that the woman who gouged out a six-year-old boy’s eyes was his aunt who later killed herself, state media said yesterday, adding a surprising twist to a gruesome case with conflicting details.
Police in the city of Linfen, Shanxi Province, have identified the boy’s aunt, Zhang Huiying (張會英), as a suspect because the boy’s blood was found on her clothes, Xinhua news agency said.
Six days after the boy was attacked, Zhang killed herself by jumping into a well.
Initial reports said the boy, Guo Bin (郭斌), was lured by an unidentified woman with a strange accent into a field on Aug. 24 where she used an unspecified tool to gouge out his eyes.
Xinhua did not cite a possible motive for the aunt to attack the boy. The police finding seemed to conflict with the family’s initial comments about the boy’s assailant, which cited him as saying that the woman spoke with an accent from outside the area and had hair that was dyed blonde.
The boy’s mother said in a telephone interview that the boy was disoriented after the traumatizing attack.
“It is easy to understand that he wasn’t clear about the situation,” Wang Wenli (王文麗) said. “He said the accent was from another region, but he later amended that. He then said it was a local accent, but he did not say that it was his aunt.”
One of the case investigators reached by telephone, a police officer in Fenxi County surnamed Liu, referred only to the Xinhua report and refused to answer further questions, saying he was not authorized to speak to the media. Calls to the city and county’s police bureaus’ propaganda departments rang unanswered.
State media had previously raised the possibility that the boy’s corneas were taken for sale because of a donor shortage in China, but police said the boy’s eyeballs were found at the scene and that the corneas had not been removed. At the time, though, Guo’s father told reporters the family had not actually seen the eyeballs.
The attack horrified the public and added to outrage over violence against children in the wake of a scandal earlier in the year over a spate of cases of school teachers sexually abusing young girls.
Media reports cited police as saying that the aunt had argued with the boy’s parents over how much money each family should contribute to the care of his grandfather, who was paralyzed. However, the boy’s mother said that reports of a dispute were false.
“There was no dispute between us and the aunt,” Wang said. “I have heard that someone said we had a dispute over taking care of the grandfather, but that is just a lie.”