A bizarre case in Jinning originally thought to involve kidnapping, but found to be a series of murders, has come to a close. The Intermediate People's Court of Kunming yesterday found Zhang Yongming (张永明) guilty of murder and sentenced him to death, China Daily is reporting.
Zhang was accused of strangling 11 people and dismembering, burning, or burying their remains in a series of grisly serial murders. Lawyers for Zhang claimed he was mentally ill but the court found him fit to stand trial. When handing down its ruling, the court called his actions "particularly cruel and flagrant."
The case began in 2008 when several people disappeared from the village of Jincheng (晋城) in Jinning county. Disappearances continued to happen over the next four years. Townspeople initially believed villagers were being kidnapped and forced to work after a missing man resurfaced and told police he had escaped from an illegal brick factory.
Local police were accused of foot-dragging in their investigations and a special investigative team was established to work the case in May 2012.
Zhang was arrested May 25 when police found a collection of eyeballs and drying human flesh in his house as well as bones from several victims buried in a nearby garden. The story gained international attention when unsubstantiated reports claimed Zhang was a cannibal who turned his victims into sausages and sold them at a local market as ostrich meat.
During Zhang's trial it was revealed he was convicted in 1979 for first-degree murder and sentenced to death. His sentence was later commuted and he was released from prison in 1997. Upon his release, Zhang was given a small home in Jincheng and issued a government stipend, according to the China Daily report.
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