Man in China kills 40-year-old intellectually-disabled man to replace another corpse for cremation

Man in China kills 40-year-old intellectually-disabled man to replace another corpse for cremation
A handout photo. The murder of a man so he could be cremated in place of another man has renewed debate about burial regulations in China.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

A Chinese court has upheld its verdict in sentencing a man to death for killing an intellectually-disabled man with the intention to use his body as a replacement for another corpse.

The "body swap" case happened in Lufeng City, located in Guangdong province.

The perpetrator, surnamed Huang, had abducted the victim, who has Down's Syndrome on March 1, 2017. The victim was picking rubbish by the roadside as per his daily habit after lunch.

When the 40-year-old did not return home at dinner time, his worried family contacted the police. His killer was only apprehended 2.5 years later.

According the Shandong Business Daily, the results of police investigations were released in Nov 2019.

The report stated that after tricking the victim into getting into his vehicle, Huang had forced the 150cm-tall man to drink bottles of liquor that he had bought.

When the victim was drunk and in an unconscious state, Huang carried him into the coffin he had prepared and sealed it. He carried out the body swop with the buyer two days later.

It is not clear from reports if the victim was still alive then.

Court proceedings revealed that Huang, whose work involved transporting bodies to be cremated, had been promised a large commission if he could find a body to replace a deceased. 

Huang's boss shared that he had been offered 107,000 yuan (about S$22,000) from a wealthy man whose older brother had died of cancer in February 2017.

As the deceased had indicated that he did not wish to be cremated, his brother sought the help of Huang's boss. Local government ruling dictates that land burials are prohibited in the area.

According to reports, Huang then hatched and carried out the nefarious plot to claim the money.

In September 2020, a court found Huang guilty of homicide, with the intention to kill the victim in order to replace his remains with that of the deceased. Huang was sentenced to death with a two-year suspended sentence.

The 90,000 yuan he had received for the murder was also recovered by the government.

Huang appealed the sentencing, claiming that he did not force the victim to drink the alcohol. He added in his defence that he thought the victim had died from sudden illness after drinking. However, the court overturned his appeal and upheld the original sentence.

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