Houston Community News >> Corpses Sold For Chinese Wedding of the Dead
5/17/2007-- Chinese police have
arrested a corpse trader who killed six women so he could sell their bodies for
superstitious "weddings of the dead". The Xinhua news agency said the man - only
identified by the surname Song - was part of a network supplying "ghost brides"
to families seeking afterlife spouses for their dead sons. Arranged marriages
for the dead are an ancient tradition in parts of China. Although the custom
declined after the communists took power in 1949, it is said to have made a
comeback in rural areas.
In an interview, Mr Song, from Linzhang county in Hebei province, said he started selling bodies in 1998. His initial attempt at grave-robbing failed when he was caught by police and jailed for two years.
Starting last year, he allegedly lured four women with learning difficulties to remote areas on his bicycle, then strangled them. He allegedly found the two other victims by recruiting them as housekeepers. "Killing people and selling their bodies was easier than stealing bodies from graves," he was quoted as saying.
He allegedly sold the bodies to middlemen in Henan and Hebei, claiming the victims had succumbed to illness and been abandoned by their families. Each corpse earned him £200 to £265.
His motive was to make enough money to build up a dog-breeding business. "I felt very jealous when I saw successful businessmen. I dreamed of becoming a millionaire," he allegedly told a reporter. "When a person thinks only of money, they can do anything."
Mr Song was arrested when families of the two housemaids reported them missing and police found they were both hired by him through the same agency.
At least three other corpse traders have been detained in connection with the case. Others are still at large.
Arranged marriages for the deceased are particularly common around the festival for the dead in early April. In parts of Shanxi province, farmers match suitable skeletons and organise engagements, weddings, gifts, dowries and celebration dinners for the families.
In recent years, the practice has been reported in Henan, Hebei - very close to Beijing - and even in Guangdong, the most developed province on the mainland.
In some case, the dead men have living wives, but their parents want them to have company in the afterlife. A lawyer told Chinese reporters that a family in Xingtai village, close to the site of the latest crimes, had sued the wife of their dead son because she refused to give them enough money to pay for a "ghost wife" to take her place.
(Contributed by Guardian Limited)