An acclaimed Chinese novellist—who murdered four people and used the memory as inspiration for his stories—was sentenced to death yesterday, 23 years after committing the killings.
Liu Yongbiao, 53, and his accomplice Wang Mouming, robbed and killed a family of three and a lodger in a guest house over two decades ago. Between the murders and present day, Liu rose to prominence as an award-winning author in China.
On Monday, the Huzhou Intermediate People’s Court, in the Zhejiang Province, found Liu and Wang guilty of robbery and homicide after they admitted to the crime. They were both sentenced to death.
In an interview with CCTV last August, Liu revealed that although the killings had inspired his novels, he never based any of the characters on the real people he had murdered. The author also said the memory of the murders that haunted him felt “worse than dying.”
On November 29, 1995, Liu and Wang tied up a couple—in the guesthouse they owned—their grandson and a lodger, before murdering the quartet with clubs and hammers.
Unfortunately for authorities at the time, the guesthouse did not have surveillance cameras and did not keep information about their guests. As a result, the case went unsolved for 22 years.
Last June, police discovered Liu’s DNA on a cigarette butt found at the scene after they relaunched the case in light of new genetic testing technology. Authorities then visited 15 Chinese provinces in a bid to locate the suspect linked to the DNA.
After comparing the sample with over 60,000 people, they found a match to a clan, surnamed Liu, who were in Nanling, Anhui Province. There, they spoke to the clan and were able to narrow down the suspect to Liu Yongbiao.
A few months later, undercover police tricked Liu into believing they were researching into his family tree so he would hand over a sample of his saliva. Two days later, on August 11, police arrested Liu at his home in Nanling after they found a match between his saliva and that on the cigarette butt. Shortly after, Wang was also arrested at his home in Shanghai.
Speaking to CCTV, Liu admitted that they killed the lodger because he appeared to be wealthy. However, they only managed to loot a watch, a ring and the equivalent of $1.50 from him.
Liu also said the murders were “so cruel” he deserved to “die 100 times” for committing them.