Chinese 'Jack the Ripper' confesses to grisly rape, murder spree

Wanted posters of Gao Chengyong. Photo / Supplied
Wanted posters of Gao Chengyong. Photo / Supplied

The Ganzu 'Ripper' invaded the nightmares of young Chinese women for decades.

Many were too scared to leave their homes, terrified they could be the next victim of a serial killer described by authorities as "reclusive", "patient" and with a deep "hatred" for women.

For 14 years, he expressed his loathing on women wearing red. He targeted those who lived alone, then followed them back to their homes.

He is accused of raping, murdering and mutilating the bodies of 11 women between 1988 and 2002. One of his victims was an 8-year-old girl.

He got away with it for so long because he was careful, but he could not get away with it forever.

Inside a grocery store in the northwest Chinese province of Gansu on Monday, alongside his wife, the terror inflicted by the man known as China's Jack the Ripper finally came to an end.

There, police arrested a 52-year-old man named Gao Chengyong. They say Gao is the Ganzu Ripper and that they finally have their man.

A married man. A father-of-two. A grocery store owner. A serial killer.

A big year for Gao Chengyong

In 1988, Gao Chengyong welcomed his first son into the world. That same year, aged 34, he claimed his first victim.

Police allege Gao followed, raped and murdered a 23-year-old woman wearing red clothes. She was found dead at her home with 26 stab wounds.

In November that same year, he killed Cui Jinping, but he was not satisfied with stabbing her to death. Meticulously, according to reports at the time, the killer cut off her hands and her breasts.

Her mother found her body but, despite extensive searches, parts of her body were never found.

The body count piled up between 1998 and 2002. Then suddenly there was nothing. No more murders. No more clues for police to follow.

In 2004, forensic officers working on the cold case murders linked one man to all 11 killings. They released the following statement alongside a reward for information amounting to $30,000.

"The suspect has a sexual perversion and hates women. He's reclusive and unsociable, but patient."

His status grew when people began comparing him with east London's Victorian-era serial killer, the original Jack the Ripper. Those crimes - five murders in which the victims were cut up after the killing - have never been solved.

For police, the breakthrough in the case came about unexpectedly when a clue - courtesy of one of Gao's relatives - landed in their laps.

Killer's son 'appalled' at confession

Gao lived in a small city and therefore managed to avoid fingerprint checks required by other Chinese citizens who apply for national identity cards.

He had left DNA at a number of crime scenes but police could not link it to any suspect. That changed this year when Gao's uncle was arrested for a minor crime in Baiyin.

According to the China Daily, the relative's DNA was collected and tested.

The killer was related, police determined. Then they closed in on Gao.

The New York Times reported Gao's son was shocked when he heard his father had confessed.

"I didn't know what to say, or how to deal with it," he said.

The South China Morning Post reported Gao was quiet and that his last job was at a trade school.

His confession ends years of work for police and years of worry for women walking alone in Ganzu Province. But there are questions to be answered.

"I've accepted this fact (that he did it) but I cannot understand why he did it," Gao's son said.

- Daily Mail

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