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A.K.A.: "Yang Zhiya"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Serial rapist (23)
Number of victims: 67
Date of murders: 2000 - 2003
Date of arrest: November 3, 2003
Date of birth: July 17, 1968
Victims profile: Men, women and children
Method of murder: Beating with a hammer
Location: Henan, China
Status: Executed by shot in the head on February 14, 2004
photo gallery

Yang Xinhai (simplified Chinese: 杨新海; pinyin: Yáng Xīnhǎi ; 17 July 1968–14 February 2004) was one of the worst serial killers in China's history.

His relatives, now living in Pennsylvania, often claim he was obsessed with a phrase he was known to talk about "Plato Flats", a fictional place he created for stories of murder he had begun writing. His stories were written on everything Yang had.

He was also known for having drawings and outlines for various other ideas in "Mead" Notebooks. Often there were depictions of ideas he had for stories and films that he wanted to create.

He confessed to killing 65 people in central China from 1999 to 2003. At night, he would enter his victims' homes, and kill everyone inside with axes, meat cleavers, hammers, and shovels. He often raped the female victims.

He was arrested in northern China on November 23, 2003; found guilty after a trial lasting less than an hour on February 1, 2004; and executed for his crimes on February 14, 2004.

According to Yang, the motive for the killings was that he was dumped by his girlfriend - who had found out about a previous prison term for burglary and rape - and taking out his anger on society.


China executes mass murderer

BBC News

Saturday, February 14, 2004

China has executed one of the worst serial killers in the country's history - a man convicted of 67 murders.

Yang Xinhai, 38, was found guilty earlier this month of a three-year killing spree, after a one-hour trial.

It said he used a hammer to carry out some of the attacks in four provinces, sometimes murdering entire families.

Some reports suggested he was angry after being rejected by his girlfriend, but others said he was motiveless killer who simply enjoyed death.

He had waived his right to an appeal, after being sentenced in the city of Luohe, in the province of Hunan.

He was also convicted of 23 rapes.

State media did not say how he was executed; death sentences in China are carried out either by lethal injection or a bullet in the head.

Yang - a migrant worker - was arrested in Cangzhou City in Hebei last November, during a routine inspection of entertainment venues.

He later admitted the crimes in the provinces of Henan, Anhui, Shandong and Hebei, and police also matched his DNA with that found at several crime scenes.

In an interview shown on China's Central Television after his trial, Yang gave no real motive for the killing spree that had begun after he was released from a labour camp for rape in 2000.

"When I killed people I had a desire (to kill more). This inspired me to kill more. I don't care whether they deserve to live or not. It is none of my concern," Yang said.

"I have no desire to be part of society. Society is not my concern," he said.


Man who killed 67 people executed

February 14, 2004

One of China's worst serial killers, a man who murdered 67 people and raped two dozen women in a four-year crime spree, was executed in Central China's Henan Province Saturday.

Yang Xinhai, 35, was sentenced to death on Feb. 1 by the Luohe City Intermediate People's Court in Henan, Xinhua News Agency said.

Yang had not appealed against the sentence, the report said.

Yang, who was described as a very "insidious" criminal by police, used tools such as an iron hammer or a meat cleaver to murder entire families during his rampage across four provinces.

Since 1999 had moved around and committed crimes in 26 cases in rural areas of Henan, Shandong, Anhui and Hebei provinces. He was arrested in November 2003 in Cangzhou City of north China's Hebei Province.

Police said Yang usually carried out criminal actives at night and cleared the scenes of crime before he ran away. Each time, he wore new clothes and shoes with larger size than his own.

Yang had been imprisoned twice on charges of burglary and rape, and turned to murder after his release in 1999.


China executes serial killer

Saturday, February 14, 2004

BEIJING, China (AP) -- A man convicted of 67 murders was executed Saturday after what Chinese media said might be the country's longest, deadliest killing spree in modern history.

Yang Xinhua, 38, was put to death in Luohe, the city where he was convicted February 1 in the central province of Henan, state television and the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Yang was convicted of killings in Henan and three other provinces during a crime spree that began in 2001 and ended with his capture in November. He sometimes traveled from town to town by bicycle.

Yang was executed by gunshot, Xinhua said.

Yang also was convicted of 23 rapes during his crime spree, which began following his release from a labor camp where he served a term for rape and theft, according to earlier reports.

Authorities barred the public and reporters from Yang's hour-long trial, citing privacy concerns in rape cases.

Little is known about his motives, but earlier reports said Yang had been dumped by his girlfriend and "desperately wanted to retaliate against society."

News reports described Yang as mentally unbalanced, saying he would begin rambling and shouting after a few seconds of conversation.

Yang confessed and police matched his DNA with that found at several crime scenes, earlier reports said.

Details of the victims' identities and details of their deaths weren't released.



Man faces death after killing 67

China Daily

February 2, 2004

A man whose trail of death left more than sixty people dead in four provinces was sentenced to death Sunday.

Yang Xinhai, 38, killed 67 people and raped 23 women in a spree that spanned four provinces in four years. He was convicted Sunday in Luohe, in Central China's Henan Province.

The Luohe Intermediate People's Court sentenced Yang to death for crimes of intentional homicide, willful and malicious injury, pillage and rape.

Yang said he would not appeal to a higher court.

Yesterday's hearing, which lasted an entire day, was conducted behind closed doors to protect the identities of the female rape victims.

Yang, of Henan's Zhengyang County, was arrested last November in Cangzhou of North China's Hebei Province.

He confessed to 17 crimes in Henan, two in Hebei, two in East China's Anhui Province and one in East China's Shandong Province since 2000.

The toll of his crime spree goes beyond the dead and raped. Another 10 people were seriously injured. In some instances, Yang put whole families to death.

On December 6, 2002, Yang killed Liu Zhanwei, a farmer in the Liuzhuang Village of Henan's Xiping County who is in his 30's, his mother, wife, son and daughter.

Only Liu's father, 68-year-old Liu Zhongyuan survived because he slept in a new house that night.

"We planned to move to the new house on December 9. Who can imagine that they experienced such tragedy only three days before?" the surviving father cried.

Liu Zhongyuan recalled that seeing his granddaughter that fateful morning. She was lying on the ground, with a hole in her head. The room was full of blood.

"My wife could still bat her eyelids but could not speak any more."

Liu Zhanwei, his wife and son were all found with bloody faces.

Liu Zhongyuan's wife died 10 days after being sent to hospital on December 6.

The other four people died where they were found.

Yang Xinhai later confessed that he used an iron hammer to kill the five family members at 1 am on December 6.

He buried the hammer near a tomb at night and threw his bloody clothes into a river.

Yang then walked two hours to the city of Luohe. He said he used a new hammer for each murder.

Yang dropped out of school in 1985 and began to travel to other regions, working as a hired labourer.

He was twice sent to re-education through labour camps, in 1988 and 1991, for theft in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province and Shijiazhuang, North China's Hebei Province.

He was sentenced to five years in prison in 1996 for an attempted rape in Zhumadian, Central China's Henan Province.

He was released in 2000.

That was when his killing spree began.

Sources with the local police of Cangzhou, Hebei Province, where Yang was arrested, said that he killed and rape, but not for money.

"He committed crimes to merely hurt society," a local policeman was quoted by the Jiangnan Times as saying.

During his stay at a detention house in Luohe, when asked by other criminal suspects why he killed so many people, Yang said, "killing people is very usual, nothing special."


Yang Xinhai

On November 3, 2003, 35 year old Yang Xinhai was arrested by police in the province of Hebei in Canzhou, China for the murders of at least 67 people in a two year time period.

He was also the chief suspect for a rash of cases in three other cities, Anhui, Shandong and Henan in China.

The motive for the killings, according to Yang, was that he had been dumped by his girlfriend and wanted to take his anger out on society.

Yang’s girlfriend had left him after finding out about a prison term the man had served for rape and burglary.

Yang’s method was to go to farmhouses and slaughter everyone he found. He would bash them to death. The killer used tools such as a meat cleaver and iron hammer to murder the farming families.

Yang would always wear new clothes and shoes two sizes too big to put police off his track.  He travelled between the Chinese provinces on a bicycle.

He was found guilty on February 1, 2004 after a trial that lasted less than an hour for the murders of 67 of his victims and the rapes of 25 women. He was sentenced to death for his crimes.

Justice was metered out quickly for the serial killer. On February 14, 2004 the killer was executed in Hehan.

The details or identities of the killer’s victims were not revealed.



Chinese 'serial killer' confesses

CNN News

Friday, 21 November, 2003

An alleged serial killer in central China has confessed to 65 killings, according to Chinese media reports.

The 35-year-old man, Yang Xinhai, has reportedly told police that he carried out the killings over the last three years.

They said the attacks were carried out with axes or shovels, often while the victims were asleep.

The killings took place in rural areas in the provinces of Henan, Anhui, Shandong and Hebei.

Yang was arrested in Cangzhou city in Hebei province on 3 November, during a routine inspection of entertainment venues.

Though DNA testing, he was later linked to the killings.

If convicted, he would rank among the world's worst serial killers.

Yang is also accused of raping 23 of his female victims, according to reports on Friday in the Beijing News.


More details have emerged about the nature of the attacks as police piece together the killing spree.

Most of the victims were bludgeoned on the head with axes and shovels, leaving shocking scenes which were discovered by neighbouring villagers.

Yang is alleged to have used white gloves during the attacks, often leaving them at the scene of the crime.

In all there are believed to have been 22 attacks, in which 65 people were killed, and from which five people managed to escape.

On at least two occasions he is alleged to have killed an entire family - one of his most brutal attacks was in August this year, when a family of five was murdered in Hebei province.

Media reports have said that Yang was the youngest of four children and his parents have described him as a promising but introverted student, who left home when he was in high school.

Concern has been expressed in Chinese internet forums about why these murders, along with other similar cases, were only reported after police had arrested suspects.



For mass media, mass murder not a story

16 november 2003

It is believed to be the most horrific case of mass murder in recent Chinese history, but for the major mainland media outlets, the case of Yang Zhiya, the "Monster Killer" who is believed to have murdered 65 people, is not news.

Yang, an ex-convict who reportedly severely injured five other people, was arrested in a nightclub in Cangzhou, Hebei province, two weeks ago after police realised he was on the nation's most-wanted list.

His arrest was first reported on Friday in the Yanzhao Metropolitan Daily and was later picked up by some mainland websites. But a mainland reporter close to the paper said several websites carrying the reports soon "killed" the story.

The official media - Xinhua, China Central Television and the People's Daily - did not carry any reports on the gruesome killing spree that allegedly took place in four provinces: Hebei, Henan, Anhui and Shandong.

Observers believe officials have imposed a nationwide media blackout to avoid presenting China in a bad light.

In marked contrast to the silence regarding the domestic killer, mainland media had a field day early this month with detailed reports on the trial of American serial killer Gary Ridgway, who has pleaded guilty to killing 48 women in Seattle during the 1980s.

The journalist said the state-run media would not carry reports on the local murder case because officials would feel it would reflect badly on the country's security situation.

The story leaked out on Friday after journalists in Cangzhou heard rumours about the case from several sources. "There is a saying that says no wall is totally wind-proof," one journalist said. "Some of the Cangzhou people knew about the case but the police had sealed their mouths on the report."

It was not until the story had been published that officials from police departments from Henan, Anhui and Shandong confirmed details of the case to the South China Morning Post.

The treatment of the Yang case is not unusual. Families of the victims in a Shenzhen serial murder case have been warned by police not to talk to the media lest they paint the city in bad light, relatives have said, and media coverage of the case has been muted.

The families have been told that two suspects are expected to go on trial around November 25 on charges of robbing and murdering 12 young women.


China arrests alleged mass killer

Saturday, November 15, 2003

BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- Chinese police have arrested a man accused of knifing 65 people to death in one of the most horrifying cases of serial slayings in China's recent history.

Ex-convict Yang Zhiya was grabbed earlier this month in the northern city of Cangzhou after police inspecting an entertainment venue recognized him from a national most-wanted list, the Guangzhou Daily said on Saturday.

Yang, who had spent time in prison and a labor camp for rape and robbery, set off on his killing spree after his girlfriend left him over his criminal past, the newspaper said.

"Yang Zhiwei harbored feelings of revenge against society ... and moreover his methods were extremely cruel; he didn't leave survivors, and more than a few families were exterminated by his hand," it said.

Despite the astonishing death toll and the grisly nature of the crimes, Yang's case has not been widely reported in tightly controlled state media since his capture on November 3.

China has viewed itself as largely free of the kind of mass violence it sees reported in countries such as the United States.

The four-paragraph report in a city newspaper contrasted with the media's intensive coverage of serial killers in the West, such as Gary Ridgway, the "Green River Killer" who pleaded guilty this month to murdering 48 prostitutes and runaways in the Seattle area.

While official violent crime figures are unavailable, China is no stranger to mass killings.

But rather than office shootings or serial slayings, it is troubled by revenge poisonings, arsons and even bombings.

Last year, a man killed at least 42 people, many of them children, by slipping rat poison into food at a rival's shop in the eastern city of Nanjing.

The Public Security Ministry had congratulated the Cangzhou police department for finally nabbing Yang, the newspaper said.



Chinese 'serial killer' arrested

Saturday, 15 November, 2003

Police in China's Hebei province have arrested a man suspected of murdering at least 65 people, local media say.

The man, identified as Yang Zhiya, was apprehended as police inspected an entertainment venue in the northern city of Cangzhou on 3 November.

They later discovered that he was wanted for murder in three other provinces.

Correspondents say this could be the deadliest case of individual mass murder in China's recent history.

Such cases are not widely reported in China as the country sees itself as being mostly free of the types of violent crimes often reported in the West.

The media said that Yang wanted to take revenge on society after being dumped by his girlfriend.

She had left him because of previous sentences he served in prison and reform camp for robbery and rape.

Yang was arrested in a routine operation because he appeared suspicious.

But police found that he was wanted in the provinces of Anhui, Shandong and Henan, as well as in Hebei itself.

Yang's alleged victims were said to be mainly farmers.

"His methods were extremely cruel," Guangzhou Daily newspaper said in an article on Saturday.

"He didn't leave survivors, and more than a few families were exterminated by his hand."

Beijing's Ministry of Public Security, which has some jurisdiction over cases involving several provinces, congratulated Cangzhou police on their success.

But the ministry made no further comment on the arrest.


Man Arrested For 65 Murders

November 15, 2003

An ex-convict dumped by his girlfriend has been arrested and linked to the stabbing murders of 65 people in several provinces, a report here on Saturday in what could be the deadliest case of individual mass murder in the country's recent history.

Yang Zhiya, who also goes by the aliases Yang Liu and Yang Xinhai, was apprehended on Nov. 3 in the northern Chinese province of Hebei, not far from Beijing. It said Yang, who had served time in prison in the past for unspecified crimes, has been accused of killing people in the provinces of Henan, Anhui, Shandong and Hebei because he "desperately wanted to retaliate against society."

Details of the victims' identities or the exact circumstances of their deaths were not immediately available. No further information on Yang was given, either, nor was it clear whether he had actually been charged with any of the killings.

The central government's Ministry of Public Security, which would have some jurisdiction over the case because the killings took place in several provinces, had no immediate comment.

Yang began the murders after his girlfriend broke up with him, the newspaper said, quoting police. It said he went from city to city on his killing spree, sometimes traveling between towns by bicycle.

He was detained after acting suspicious at a recreation center in Cangzhou, a city in Hebei. Police took him in for questioning and determined - to their surprise - that he was on the wanted list.

It said Cangzhou police had been congratulated by the Ministry of Public Security for apprehending Yang. In September, Bai Jingfu, the country's vice minister of public security, said that despite the government's 5-year-old "strike hard" anti-crime campaign, "violent crime was still occurring in some places and certain illegal forces still existed."



Chinese serial killer struck 65 times, say police

15 november 2003


POLICE in China say that they have arrested a man who killed at least 65 people after his girlfriend broke up with him.

If convicted, Wang Ganggang — who has served time in prison and labour camps for robbery and rape — would be China’s most prolific serial killer. He is said to have murdered mostly farmers. He used several aliases, including Yang Zhiya.

“His girlfriend broke up with him and as a result, Yang Zhiya developed a vengeful attitude towards society and committed the crimes in Henan, Anhui, and Shandong,” one official report said. He was “extremely cruel” in his methods, usually leaving no one alive to bear witness to his crime.

Rising violent crime is a particularly sensitive subject in China, since the Communist Party bases some of its legitimacy to rule on its claim to be the supreme guardian of public order.

In many cases, state media will report a major case only after an arrest has been made. Unsolved cases simply go unreported.

Newspapers reported this month that a couple had been arrested in Shenzhen in southern China in connection with the robbery and murders of 12 women who were lured to their deaths with the promise of a job. Police also said that a Chinese man had confessed to raping at least 37 elderly women, some of them in their 90s, because they were “easy to control”.

Mr Wang was arrested on November 3 in Cangzhou, Hebei province, during a routine police inspection of entertainment venues, the official Xinhua news agency’s website said. Police arrested him because he appeared suspicious, but later realised that he was wanted for murder in four provinces.

“It’s at least 65,” Shi Guizhong, director of the Hebei Public Security Bureau’s propaganda division, said. “Even though the case was cracked in Hebei, it involves several provinces, so it’s up to the Ministry of Public Security to release information.” Another police officer in the Hebei Public Security Bureau said that the case broke all records.

“Everyone in the department has heard about it. It could be the biggest murder case since the founding of the People’s Republic of China,” the officer said.

The increase in violent crime has been attributed by some observers to rapid changes in the socio-economic fabric of Chinese society, widening the gap between rich and poor.



Chinese serial killer suspect arrested

Police have arrested a man suspected of killing at least 65 people in a serial murder case rarely seen in China. 

The man, an ex-convict identified as Wang Ganggang, was arrested on 3 November in Hebei province's Cangzhou city during a routine police inspection  of entertainment venues, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

"It's at least 65 (victims)," Shi Guizhong, director of the Hebei Public Security Bureau's propaganda division said.

"Even though the case was cracked in Hebei, it involves several provinces, so it's up to the Ministry of Public Security to release information," Shi said, refusing to provide more details.


Police arrested Wang because he appeared suspicious, but later realised he was wanted for homicides in four provinces.

Wang, who used several pseudonyms, including Yang Zhiya, had also seriously injured four other people.

A police officer who works in the Hebei Public Security Bureau said it could be the biggest murder case in recent Chinese history.

Most of the victims were farmers, he said, adding that the case was still being investigated.

Wang had been sentenced to prison and to reform-through-labour camps for robberies and rape, the agency said, quoting media reports.


"His girlfriend broke up with him because of this and as a result, Yang Zhiya developed a vengeful attitude towards society and committed the crimes," it said, quoting the Yanzhao Dushi newspaper.

He was "extremely cruel" in his methods, usually leaving no witness alive to tell.

Wang later fled north to Hebei where he carried out additional murders, including in the city of Shijiazhuang, where he killed two people. Shijiazhuang is located only about three hours drive from Beijing.

Mass murders are rare in China, but they and other violent crimes are becoming increasingly common.

Earlier this month, state media reported a couple had been arrested in southern China's Shenzhen city in connection with the robbery and murders of 12 women who were lured to their deaths with the promise of a job.

On Friday police said a Chinese man had confessed to raping at least 37 elderly women, some of them in their 90s, because they "are easy to control".



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