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Murder After Chinese Family Needed a Body to Cremate

They wanted to bury their son, but the body swap took a grim turn
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2021 2:17 PM CDT

(Newser) – In some parts of China, particularly densely populated ones, burials are not permitted. The BBC reports one family's desire to get around this ended in murder. The case is only now coming to light and involves a family living in Shanwei city in Guangdong province who wanted to be able to bury their son—and needed a body to cremate in his place. The man reportedly died from cancer in February 2017 and told relatives he wanted to be buried, reports the South China Morning Post. They hired a man identified as Huang to source them that body. Their assumption reportedly was that he would track down a dead body for them. Instead, court documents say he lured a man with Down's syndrome (variously reported as age 36 or 40) into his car and gave him booze until he lost consciousness.

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Huang then put the man in a coffin that he sealed with four nails; the coffin and body were then cremated under the guise of it being the dead son. Asia One reports it's unclear if the man was alive at the time of the cremation. The story took a full two years to unravel. The victim's family reported him missing, and it took police two years to point a finger at Huang. He was given a suspended death sentence last September and lost an appeal. He'll spend life in prison so long as he doesn't reoffend in the next two years. The relatives, who paid $16,300 for the body, were found guilty of "insulting a corpse." They did not receive prison terms, and whether they were subject to any other punishment is unclear. (Read more China stories.)

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