An 18-year-old Chinese boy has been reunited with his family 17 years after going missing from the home in which his parents were murdered, and his adoptive father has been identified as the prime suspect in the crime, according to a state media report.

In 2001, a couple, the Chens, were beaten to death in their stone hut in the village of Shangfengshan, near the city of Xinyang, Henan province, broadcaster CCTV reported on Saturday.

When police arrived at the scene they found the husband and wife lying in a pool of blood, but there was no sign of their 1-year-old son.

"When we got to the scene of the crime, it was getting dark, but I noticed that there was blood everywhere and two people were dead," said Chen Congjun, a police officer who was involved in the case.

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As there were no signs of forced entry, Chen said that he and his colleagues deduced that the couple had known their attacker, and that the child had likely been abducted.

For 17 years, the whereabouts of the missing child and the identity of the murderer remained unknown, the report said.

It was only in 2018 that police spotted a DNA match between relatives of the dead couple and a boy living in Kaifeng, Henan.

Another police officer, from the Xinyang force, said that an investigation showed the boy had been adopted, which suggested he might have been the child that had gone missing in 2001.

That was confirmed following an interview with the child and further DNA tests, the report said.

The police then turned their attention to the boy's adoptive father, who was identified as a peripatetic doctor called Zhang who worked in rural areas.

Following an investigation, police discovered that Zhang had been working in Shangfengshan around the time the Chen's had been murdered, and with the help of witness statements made him their prime suspect.

The CCTV report said that while under police questioning Zhang confessed to the crime and was subsequently detained.

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It did not say when this happened, but said he remained in custody and was awaiting trial.

The report did not identify the teenager, but said that after the arrest of his adoptive father he had gone to live with his blood relatives.

- South China Morning Post