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He is said to have murdered at least 11 women during his 14-year killing spree in northeastern China and Inner Mongolia.
Referred to as the Chinese Jack the Ripper, his killing spree saw him committing some of China’s most gruesome killings, with victims having their throats slashed and sexual organs mutilated.
On the anniversary of the arrest of Gao Chengyong today (August 26, 2016), we look back on the killing spree of the murderer, which drew comparisons to those of one of the most famous serial killers of all time.
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Growing up in the Qingcheng, in the northeast province of China, Gao was considered a dutiful son –if a little emotionally detached – who cared for his father after his dad suffered from a bout of paralysis.
Despite a rather conventional childhood and early-adulthood challenges, Gao’s early life is said to have been unremarkable.
At the time of his arrest, Gao had been married for over 30 years and had two sons, the eldest of which was born in 1988, the year of his first murder.
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No one knows what set Gao off on his murderous spree, or what specifically tormented the man so much that he committed some of China’s most gruesome killings.
Gao's first victim was a 23-year old woman whom he is alleged to have stalked to her home, where he attacked, raped, and then murdered her.
She was discovered by police with 26 different wounds over her body.
Gao’s crimes always followed the same routine: he tracked women who lived alone back to their apartments, before attacking and raping them.
He would then slash their throats and mutilate their sexual organs, which led police to believe that he was harbouring some deep resentment towards female sexuality.
The original Ripper followed a similar pattern in the 19th century by attacking vulnerable women on the streets of London, slashing their throats and mutilating their bodies.
While Gao is not believed to have engaged in cannibalism, he did slash off his victims’ breasts, hands, ears, and other body parts.
Many of his victims were dressed in red, which led police to theorise that the killer harboured a deep sexual fascination with women in red.
The focus on young women, the youngest being an eight-year-old girl, and the mutilated corpses led many in China to dub the killer the Chinese Jack the Ripper.
Similarly to the original Ripper, who was believed to have halted his killing spree in 1889, Gao stopped killing in 2002, and no one knows why he brought an end to his murderous spreee.
Police collected enough DNA evidence to tie several murders together, but could not connect the DNA to anyone registered in Baiyin province, where the murders were committed due to Gao not being registered in Baiyin. He only registered in nearby Gansu province where he lived.
Gao was only captured after a close relative was brought into custody on an unrelated charge.
His DNA was taken, and the sample was a near match to the Baiyin slayings. Police then sampled his relatives’ DNA, which is what led them to Gao.
On this day in 2016, Gao was arrested at the grocery store where he worked almost three decades after committing his first murder.
He confessed to the 11 murders and was sentenced to death on March 30, 2018.
Less than a year later, on January 3, 2019, he was executed for his crimes.
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