August 23, 2006.
On July 16,
2006, in Pingliang town, Hanying county, Ankang city,
Shaanxi province, in a Taoist temple at the top of a
faraway mountain more than 2,000 meters above sea level
-- the Iron Tile Temple -- there occurred a horrible
murder case that shocked the nation. A total of nine
males and one female were brutally murdered in the
middle of the night, the oldest being 62 and the
youngest being 12.
murders, the Ministry of Public Security issued a
Category A warrant on July 26 and offered 50,000 RMB
across the nation for information that lead to the
arrest of suspect Qiu Xinghua. The Ankang city police
gathered several hundred police officers to conduct
large-scale searches in the local area. On the night of
August 19, Qiu Xinghua returned to his home in the
darkness but he was arrested by the waiting police.
What kind of
person is this scary "crazed murderer"? Our newspaper
reporters went to Ankang and were able to visit the
scene of the arrest in the first instant as well as
conduct a face-to-face interview with Qiu Xinghua with
the cooperation of the police. Our reporters also
interviewed the police, the Qiu family members and the
neighbors in great detail in order to figure out how a
47-year-old farmer could become an "demon" when the evil
in this heart "took over" his mind.
On the evening
of August 19, after being hunted by several hundred
police officers from Ankang, the wearied murder suspect
Qiu Xinghua sneaked back to his home in Wusi village,
Daheba town, Fuping county. He was arrested by four
police officers who have been stationed there for 22
So this bloody
murder case which shocked so many people finally reach
curtain-closing. Yet, including the police, everybody
wants to solve the mystery: Why did an almost 50-year-old
farmer commit such a heinous crime?
reply was just as surprising. In the detention center,
Qiu told that police that the reason why he cruelly
killed 10 people that night was because the Iron Tile
Temple director "touched his wife once."
He began by
saying that he killed because he did not like the "manners"
of the Taoist priests and therefore he acted on behalf
of justice just like the heroes of the nove, The
Water Margin. The temple director Xiong Wancheng
was the leader who ought to be held responsible for the
actions of the Taoist priests.
Then he said
that the real reason was that Xiong Wancheng "insulted"
his wife. He admitted that he has no proof, but he was
firmly convinced that this wass true. Therefore, he
Even if he had
to die ten thousand times over, he had to kill Xiong.
Similarly, he hated his "shameless" wife and he said
that he planned to return home and kill her as well.
Then he said that "there was no need" to kill his wife,
because she is the mother of his son after all.
He said that he
wanted to kill his wife's brothers, because they "took
advantage" of him. He said that he should go home to
kill them first and then he would drown himself in the
river or kill himself at his father's grave. Then he
said that he wanted to find "prostitutes" and kill them
after screwing them, one after another. When he told
the reporter this, he was grinding his teeth as if he
hated these people as much as he hated Xiong Wancheng.
He insisted that
he is unrepentant, except that he is sorry for his son
whom he said is his. "So the daughter is no yours?" He
said that he did not want to answer the question.
Since his arrest,
this principal character in the crime that shocked the
entire society has been using these almost absurd
logical explanations to explain his motives. For him,
these incredible explanations were natural.
the first police officer who arrived at the Iron Tile
Temple on July 16, the ten victims all suffered fatal
wounds on their heads due to an axe or similar
instrument. The sight was unbearable.
police quickly identified Qiu Xinghua as a suspect. Qiu
is a superstitious person who seeks divinations, and he
had conflicts many times with the temple administrators.
Prior to the incident, he has said that he wanted
revenge. Both the police and Qiu's wife confirmed this.)
The last time
that Qiu Xinghua's elder brother Qiu Xingfu met him was
in March of this year.
Qiu Xinghua came
to borrow money, but Qiu Xingfu could only come up with
50 RMB. Qiu Xinghua was obviously upset, "because he
left without finishing his bottle of beer."
have the same mother, Qiu Xingfu and Qiu Xinghua are
temperamentally different. The former is described by
villagers as "honest and kind" while the latter is
"superficial and empty."
is Hejialiang, Yixin village, Houliu town, Shiquan
county, Shaanxi province. This is a village with only
eight households. During the land reform period, Qiu
Xingfu's father settled here and was given a house. Of
the Hejialiang households, five of them have last name
He and the Qiu family is the only one with that name.
When Qiu Xingfu was nine years old, his father passed
away. His mother had mental problems as long as he can
remember -- she got into a fit for no apparent reason
and then she talked to herself for two or three hours.
It was like that almost every day.
"Bad temper. Do
not provoke." That was Qiu Xingfu's basic summary of
his younger brother's personality. The first time he
encountered that was when Qiu Xinghua was twenty years
old. At the time, it was past 10 o'clock in the morning
but Qiu Xinghua was still sleeping in bed. So Qiu
Xingfu was mad and hit him once. "I did not imagine
that he would get so angry that he picked up a hoe and
tried to attack me."
But Qiu Xingfu
admitted that under most circumstances (especially in
front of outsiders), Qiu Xinghua would not show his
anger. Even if he was bullied, he was only mad inside
but he wouldn't show it. There was one exception. That
time, a village girl went to his home and her brother
came and began to hit Qiu Xinghua. At first, Qiu
Xinghua did not resist but when the beating got tough,
he exploded. "I had to hold him back by force because I
was afraid that he would kill someone," said Qiu Xingfu.
likes to read novels and compares himself with the
famous general Han Xin who allowed himself to be
humiliated. His frequent saying was: "I'm not afraid of
dying at 36 (which is the age when Han Xin died); I'm
only afraid of dying unknown." (During the interview,
Qiu Xinghua repeated that phrase).
Since he had "no
gainful employment," Qiu Xinghua is usually the suspect
whenever some incident takes place locally. In Qiu
Xingfu's memory, Qiu Xinghua had gone to "jail" (this
should be administrative detention) four times. The
earliest incident was in the early 1980's when the wire
for the village public announcement system fell down for
some reason and Qiu Xinghua took it home. For this, he
was detained for 15 days.
Qiu Xinghua was
also arrested three times for "smuggling gold," "trafficking
in women trade" and "stealing railroad equipment." But
these crimes were later shown not to have been committed
by him. Therefore, at the Hanyin county detention
center, Qiu Xinghua only mentioned the case of the
broadcast wire when asked about his prior record.
In Qiu Xinghua's
eyes, there was only one crime during his 47 years. Of
course, this is not counting the murder of 10 people in
afternoon of August 2, Qiu Xinghua was hiding in the
mountain forests and he was discovered by a local
villager. The Ankang police gathered more than 200
police officers to surround the mountain and search for
him. They discover several hiding spots along with some
Although he was
poor and had "no gainful employment," Qiu Xinghua had an
interesting path to marriage because he used the "weapon
of the law" to achieve a resounding victory.
In the secluded
Hejialiang, Qiu Xinghua claims to have fallen in love
eleven times and he had eyes for the He family girl He
Ranfeng. But this idea was obviously opposed by the He
family. Therefore, the two young people chose to elope.
parents had only two daughters and no son. Through
their pleas, the He family sent out four people
including He Rangao and He Ranfu to find the couple and
then bring them back to Hejialiang.
In recalling the
situation back then, He Ranfu said: "We took him down to
the detention center for the night to make sure that he
received a good beating." By coincidence, even though
the detention center director was not a member of the He
family, his last name also happened to be He.
Ranfeng was locked up in the He family house. But the
beaten Qiu Xinghua did not give up. He got someone to
write a "complaint," slipped it through the window so
that He Ranfeng could apply her palm print and then he
sued his future father-in-law in court.
town court and the law enforcement agency stepped in.
The He family was criticized for "interfering with the
freedom of marriage." He Ranfeng was let out after
being locked up for nine days, and she became married to
He Ranfeng still
does not understand why she would pick Qiu Xinghua. She
slowly recalled that Qiu Xinghua had a quick mind, he
can talk and he got many village girls to go over to his
incident, a village busybody summarized this as: Four
guys named He could not defeat one guy named Qiu. At
the Hanying detention center, when our reporter brought
this matter up with Qiu Xinghua, his eyes lit up and he
could not stop talk about it, as if this was the
greatest accomplishment of his life.
although they lived in the same courtyard, the two
families never crossed each other's threshold. The He
family acted as if they never had a girl named He
One time, Qiu
Xinghua offended the He family for some reason and
several members of the He family came over. Seeing that
Qiu Xinghua was "misbehaving," He Ranfu grabbed a
chicken and cut off its head with a knife -- meaning
that if Qiu Xinghua kept it up, he was going to wind up
just like the chicken. Then He Ranfu gave the chicken
to the shocked He Ranfeng to cook for the He family
people to eat.
this was a huge humiliation for Qiu Xinghua, but he
chose to exercise restraint. Yet, at the Iron Tile
Temple, Qiu Xinghua killed a chicken and used its blood
to write on the paper box: "Ancient emperors are not
promiscuous; violators will be killed; the sages did not
allow adulterers and adulteresses ..."
wanted to have a son. After having two daughters, he
finally got a son for which he was fined 5,000 RMB for
exceeding the family planning quota. Since the Qiu
family had no money, it remained as a debt. When the
family moved in 1998, that fine was still unpaid.
The son is Qiu
Xinghua's greatest hope and also his greatest concern
after his arrest. "I hope that he can study well and
become a success."
deputy director Li of the Hanyin public security bureau,
the support logistics could not keep up with the
searchers. Thus, the 200 plus searchers were given only
one bottle of water, one bun and a pack of pickled
mustard. In the roughest moment, they did not even have
drinking water. The special case squad even mobilized
the masses to join this unprecedented search in Ankang
planning fine and the hostile He family finally caused
Qiu Xinghua to move. In 1998, Qiu Xinghua left
Hejialiang, where he had lived for 39 years, to begin a
Hejialiang and now, Qiu Xinghua moved six times. There
were different reasons, but the outcome was always the
same: the more they move, the poorer they got. He
Ranfeng admitted that ever since leaving Hejialiang, the
children's tuition fees were almost never paid on time.
According to Qiu
Xinghua himself, they moved so often because the
neighbors were bad. The reporters found out that the
neighbors at several of the places did not really accept
the outsider Qiu family. On the last move, the landlord
showed up to ask for a 60 RMB back rent. He made Qiu
Xinghua promise to pay by a certain date and he raised
his voice deliberately. The sensitive Qiu Xinghua was
very angry, but he still borrowed money from someone to
pay up before the due date.
Hejialiang, Qiu Xinghua worked in at least ten types of
jobs. The only one that yielded a steady income was
fishing. According to He Ranfeng, he can catch 40
kilograms of fish a day and he make 100 RMB in two days.
But because they had to pay rent, buy food and pay
tuition fees for three children, the family was not well-off.
Even fishing did
not last long. In 2002, there was a flood in Hanjiang
and it was impossible to cast fish nets anymore.
Therefore, it was necessary to find some other
opportunity. Afterwards, Qiu Xinghua worked in
construction, breed animals, home repairs, etc, but he
never made good money.
hardship made a deep impression on his elder brother Qiu
Xingfu. On the day before Chinese New Year's Eve, Qiu
Xingfu brought more than 150 RMB of stuff to visit his
younger brother. By 11pm that night, his sister-in-law
had still not made dinner. Finally, he had to bring it
up himself: "Can you just cook the stuff that I brought
over?" Only then He Ranfeng started to cook.
From the second
half of last year, He Ranfeng began to sense that
something was strange about Qiu Xinghua. He seemed
distracted and edgy. He was angry for no apparent
reason and he complained that He Ranfeng looked down on
second half of last year, Qiu Xinghua got a contract for
a construction project. Due to an accident, he had to
pay a compensation of 4,000 RMB to an injured worker and
this meant that he had almost no income for the year.
Qiu Xinghua's mood then hit the bottom. He would just
sit and smoke by himself all night.
The oddness of
Qiu Xinghua's behavior began to increase. He started to
have a strange idea: the two daughters were not his,
because they walk differently from him.
became the cause of quarreling between the couple.
Usually Qiu Xinghua started it first, but when He
Ranfeng fought back, he usually fled. The children were
usually on their mother's side and they rarely felt that
their father was right in these quarrels. After the
fight, Qiu Xinghua usually reflected and apologized to
his family. But he seemed unable to control himself.
Soon after, a similar incident would happen again.
said the elder daughter Yingying.
on August 9, more than 200 public security officers and
armed police officers of the "7/16 Hanyin Murders" case
squad set out from the suspect's home in Yixin village,
Houliu town, Shiquan county and began the second large-scale
search in the mountain forests.)
Prior to June
18, 2006, the Iron Tile Temple had no connection with
Qiu Xinghua. This Taoist temple is at the top of a
2,000 meter plus high mountain. It takes more than four
hours to walk from the bottom of the mountain to the
top, and that was a very tough trip for the police
officers and the reporters.
Why did Qiu
Xinghua go to the Iron Tile Temple? On the third
contact, He Ranfeng finally said that the real reason
why her husband Qiu Xinghua got her to go to the temple
with him was because he suspected that the two daughters
were not his.
On April 24, Qiu
Xinghua suddenly returned home after having been away
working for two months. He said that he found a good
job for "digging ditches" by the expressway and he could
not handle it by himself. So he wanted He Ranfeng to go
with him. She did not want to go because the three
children in the households needed her to cook for them.
But she knew that she could not dissuade her husband.
Later He Ranfeng
found out that real reason why Qiu Xinghua wanted her to
come out with him -- he was worried about her being by
herself at home. He Ranfeng found out that the formerly
self-confident Qiu Xinghua was becoming more and more
jealous during the past year.
Before the work
was finished, Qiu Xinghua said that he wanted to go to
the Iron Tile Temple to seek divinations for the
children. He had two goals -- he wanted to see his
son's fate, for the son was the only favored one among
his three children. More importantly, he wanted the
Taoist priest to determine if the girls are his
Xinghua told He Ranfeng that if he earns enough money,
he will go to have paternity tests done at the best
Before going up
the mountain on June 18, the couple bought about 30 RMB
in joss sticks and candles. Once up there, they found
out that people paid cash for divinations. Since they
had no money, they did not pay. When the Taoist priest
gave them the divination, he said nothing because he
probably sensed his displeasure.
the Iron Tile Temple picked up in recent years. Before
the incident, the authorities were thinking about
developing tourism at the Iron Tile Temple and to give
formal Taoist garments to the Taoist priests. According
to He Ranfeng, when they met the Taoist temple director
Xiong Wancheng, the man was wearing a western suit
instead of a Taoist gown.
priest was unable to answer Qiu Xinghua's second
question, and he only recommended the couple to get
along peacefully and not quarrel. After staying up
there for three days, the couple came back down.
On the first
occasion, Qiu Xinghua did not meet with his "enemy," the
Iron Tile Temple director Xiong Wancheng.
eight days and eight nights, there was still no sign of
the suspect. Therefore, on the morning of August 11,
the search command center made the decision: 100,000 RMB
for anyone capturing Qiu Xinghua alive; 50,000 RMB for
anyone providing useful information that allowed the
police to capture Qiu Xinghua.)
On the way down
the mountain, Qiu Xinghua encountered another unpleasant
matter: when he got off the car, he bumped his chest
against the door. He told He Ranfeng that he felt chest
pain and he needed to get treatment in Shiquan county
later, He Ranfeng received a telephone call from Qiu
Xinghua. He said that he encountered a white-haired old
fortune-teller, who said that there are two stone
tablets at the Iron Tile Temple with the name of Qiu
etched into them. Those were Qiu's ancestors and the
two stone tablets have to be moved underneath the roof
eaves before Qiu's luck would turn for the better.
But when Qiu
Xinghua was interviewed at the Hanyin detention center,
he denied all this. "That is a lie," he said in a vague
On June 25, the
couple went to the Iron Tile Temple a second time. They
found two tablets with the name Qiu. This was not
surprising, as there were several dozens of different
names etched on the stone tablets. However, they took
this to indicate that the fortune-teller was right and
they moved the two stone tablets from the courtyard to
underneath the roof eaves.
priests objected to what they were doing and there was a
quarrel. According to He Ranfeng, the dispute was not
serious. She and Qiu Xinghua compromised and the stone
tablets were moved back into the courtyard. But she
admitted that in times past with such matters, Qiu
Xinghua may seem to yield but he was still resentful
inside and he would remember these things in his heart.
could not forget the matter about the two daughters. He
made He Ranfeng swear in front of the Taoist gown on the
statue of the Taoist grandmaster in Iron Tile Temple
that the children are his or else her heart would fail
and her eyes would go blind.
They decided to
ask director Xiong Wancheng to do a divination. They
had heard from people there that director Xiong was very
accurate. To get this opportunity, He Ranfeng cooked
for the Temple people without pay while Qiu Xinghua did
things such as chopping firewood.
Six days later,
Xiong Wancheng returned to the Iron Tile Temple. This
was the one and only meeting between Xiong and Qiu
before the murders. When Xiong got there, He Ranfeng
and some other worshippers saw the famous master Xiong.
For that, she was scolded by Qiu. That night, the cook
He Ranfeng was asked by Xiong Wancheng to eat with the
other Temple workers. He Ranfeng said that Qiu Xinghua
was not there because he could not be found.
According to He
Ranfeng's recollection, Qiu Xinghua did two strange
things that night.
According to the
Temple rules, couples cannot stay together. During the
seven days at the Iron Tile Temple, Qiu Xinghua always
slept with the Temple workers while He Ranfeng stayed in
an adjacent room by herself.
That night, the
couple was with another old female cook warming
themselves in the kitchen. Qiu Xinghua suddenly
suggested He Ranfeng to go and remind Master Xiong to
read the divination for their son tomorrow. He Ranfeng
refused because Xiong was likely to be asleep already.
Besides, it was inappropriate for her to do so. He
Ranfeng claimed that Qiu Xinghua proposed that three
times. On the last time, the old woman got annoyed and
said that she would do so personally tomorrow morning.
So Qiu Xinghua
kept quiet for a while. Then he said that the carpenter
sleeping next to him snored too loudly and disturbed his
sleep. He wanted to sleep in He Ranfeng's room while
she can go to sleep with the old woman.
Ranfeng was reluctant, she did not want to start a fight
and so she agreed.
In the middle of
the night, Qiu Xinghua suddenly knocked on He Ranfeng's
door and asked: "Is something out there making a
sound?" He Ranfeng remembered clearly that Qiu Xinghua
said that, but she ignored him and did not respond. The
old woman replied on her behalf: "There's nothing."
He Ranfeng was really sorry: "If I responded that night,
then maybe the murders need not happen." She suspected
that Qiu Xinghua did not really hear anything outside,
but he only wanted to check if she was inside. Since
she did not reply, he concluded that she was not there
and she was actually in the room of Xiong Wancheng
The next morning,
Qiu Xinghua was in a completely different mood. He did
not even want to go through with the divination. At He
Ranfeng's insistence, he went through with the ritual.
On the way down, Qiu Xinghua cursed his wife for being "shameless"
and kneed her in the chest.
The couple went
down the mountain and went to the home of a cousin named
Li in Chihe town. At dinner, Qiu Xinghua began to talk
about wanting to kill people. Li and He tried to
dissuade him separately -- they did not imagine that a
few days later, Qiu Xinghua would actually go and kill
(On August 19,
it was past 8pm when Qiu Xinghua arrived home. He
entered the house and turned off the light. He Ranfeng
was chopping greenfeed for pigs and she asked the eldest
daughter Yingying to check. At that instant, the four
police men guarding the house had rushed out and
surrounded Qiu Xinghua. They were not sure that this
was the man that they were all looking so hard for.
When Yingying came out and said, "Daddy," they tackled
him. Afterwards, the neighbors could hear the whole
Qiu and He
separated at Li's home. He went back to her home -- she
was concerned about the children who had no one to cook
for them. Qiu claimed that he had to get the money for
"digging the ditch." Between that day until his arrest
on August 19, Qiu Xinghua did not go back to his home in
Daheba town, Fuping county.
actually did not go back to the worksite. Instead, he
went back to his home town of Hejialiang. Since leaving
that place eight years ago, he had not been there again.
On July 9, the
beard-covered Qiu Xinghua appeared at Yixin village.
First, he visited his parents-in-law. Then he visited
his neighbors. He cleared off the weeds on his parents'
graves. In front of the neighbors, he showed admiration
that they were "doing well." Without exception, the
neighbors saw that he was not doing well. A neighbor
suggested that he should take a shave, and that
Shiqiang found Qiu Xinghua strange, because he saw Qiu
put two pieces of rock in his washing basin. Ruan asked,
"Why are you putting rocks there?" Qiu Xinghua said, "There
are not rocks. They are crabs."
Rangao saw the injury on Qiu Xinghua's chest from the
collision with the car door and asked him if anything
was bothering him. Qiu Xinghua glared at him and asked:
"What? Are you a fortuneteller?" He obviously thought
that He Rangao had guessed what was on his mind. He
Rangao shook his head and gave a denial.
various "enemies" that Qiu Xinghua planned to kill after
the first murders, He Rangao was one of them.
was He Ranfu. When interviewed by the reporter before
Qiu Xinghua was caught, He Ranfu said that Qiu Xinghua
was weaker than him. Back then, he had chased Qiu
Xinghua for a mile and then pushed him over with one
shove when he caught him.
On July 12, Qiu
Xinghua went to visit a friend outside the village. The
friend had just purchased a spotted dog. Qiu told the
friend: "This is your fortune to be with it. Treat it
well." He added, "If you don't want it, I'll take care
So he came back
with the dog. The next morning, he left with the dog
before daybreak without saying farewell to anyone. The
door was even left ajar.
established later that Qiu Xinghua left and took the
spotted dog up to the Iron Tile Temple. After Qiu
Xinghua committed the murders, he fled with the dog.
But the dog later refused to move, so he let it go.
At 2am on July
17, he used an axe and a machete to brutally kill ten
Taoist priests and worshippers. Even the old woman who
responded to Qiu Xinghua that night was killed. He took
more than 700 RMB from the Taoist priests, but he did
not touch the mobile phones and money on the worshippers.
Qiu Xinghua said
that after the murders, he wanted to do to Daheba
village to see his son for the last time. He knew that
the police was looking for him, so he slept during the
day and climbed the mountains at night. When he was
hungry, he ate wild fruits. He had gotten lost at
times. When he arrived home, he was still physically
strong. It is still a puzzle as to how he went through
the three cordons formed by several hundred police
Xinghua was caught, the Shaanxi provincial public
security bureau made an immediate report to the Ministry
of Public Security. A press conference was held to
cancel the arrest warrant for Qiu Xinghua. Shaanxi
provincial public security bureau director Wang Rui said,
"The reason why the press conference was held so quickly
was to reassure the people and relieve them from the
feeling of terror."
Qiu Xinghua has
lots of friends and relatives, most of whom he had
borrowed money from. But Qiu Xinghua told the reporter
that he does not have a true friend.
He said that he
only has a good teacher Deng Guofeng. "I never had
motherly love since I was young. I feel that she is
like my mother." He can still remember that since his
family was poor, teacher Deng once bought a notebook and
a pencil as a present for him.
grade and fourth grade, Deng Guofeng taught Qiu Xinghua
for three years. In her mind, the young Qiu Xinghua was
"decent and not bad at all." He often wore a pair of
grass shoes. She can still remember whenever his family
could afford to eat rice (the conditions were bad then,
and people often must eat crude food and rarely have
rice), he always remembers to ask her over to eat.
About five to
six years ago when Qiu Xinghua was moving, he borrowed
300 RMB from Deng Guofeng to pay for the children's
tuition. This sum has not been repaid yet. But Qiu
Xinghua still remembers that and he is deeply ashamed.
He Ranfeng confirmed this to the reporter and said that
Qiu Xinghua told her many times that as soon as he makes
enough money, he will buy some presents and visit
teacher Deng to repay the debt.
Qiu Xinghua said
that during his flight, he cried when he remembered
teacher Deng: "I've let her down."
But Deng Guofeng
does not remember today if she ever treated this child
specially. "I only treated him like any other child."
interview by this reporter, teacher Deng's husband was
reading the day's newspaper. Qiu Xinghua was in four of
the pages, including photographs of him, He Ranfu and
the three children.