itv.com, Jan. 25, 2007
Three men have been arrested by Chinese police for killing two young women and selling their corpses as “ghost brides”.
The women were victims of an old belief, still alive in parts of western China, that young men who die unmarried should go to their graves accompanied by deceased women who will be their wives in the afterlife.
Often these women die natural deaths.
Yang Donghai, a 35-year-old farmer in western China’s Shaanxi province, confessed to killing a woman bought from a poor family for 12,000 yuan (£784) last year.
She thought she was being sold into an arranged marriage, but Yang killed her and sold her corpse for 16,000 yuan (£1,045). He and two accomplices then killed a prostitute and sold her for 8,000 yuan (£523) before police caught them.
“I did it for the money; it was a quick buck,” Yang said. “If I hadn’t slipped up early, I planned to do a few more.”
Police in Yanan, the poor and dusty corner of Shaanxi where Chairman Mao Zedong nurtured his Communist revolution, said the dark trade went beyond these cases.
“The actual number is far from just these,” the paper said.
Yang and two helpers sold the bodies to Li Longsheng, an undertaker who police said specialised in buying and selling the dead women for “ghost weddings”. It was unclear what happened to Li.