Chinese Farmer Zhang Yongming Suspected of 17 Murders

on May 24, 2012 in Alleged Serial Killers by

Zhang Yongming, a farmer who lived near the Chinese village of Nanmen, is believed by investigators to be responsible for as many as 17 murders.

Zhang, a mild mannered, chess-playing farmer who lived in a wooden shack on the edge of the village, came under suspicion during the investigation into the disappearance of 19-year-old Han Yao. Bank and calling cards belonging to Yao were found in Zhang’s home.

As investigators asked around the village of just a few thousand people, they learned that at least eight other boys and young men have disappeared from the area in the last five years.

Witnesses watched police remove several green plastic bags of evidence from Zhang’s house. Reportedly, one appeared to contain a bone of some sort.


  • Tina P says:

    Am I correct in saying serial killers are not all that common in the Orient?

    • Brian Combs says:

      Not correct. I don’t believe they’re any less common than any where else. The Western world just doesn’t hear as much about them.

      • Tina P says:

        Consider me corrected! logical, really…

        • Brian Combs says:

          I really don’t see there being many differences in serial murderers from one culture to the next. The base urges that drive them are fairly universal.

          There are, however, significant differences in how societies react to and deal with serial murder. Much of the Western world is seeing a reduction in serial murder, because the crimes tend to be linked more quickly, and the offenders caught before they can kill as many times.

          • Tina P says:

            Why do you suppose then we hear less of it in the east? A societal thing?

          • Brian Combs says:

            Well, here in the USA, Americentrism certainly plays a part. You have to put in some effort to get world news beyond the big headlines. I imagine that’s an issue in a lot of countries.

            Language also plays a part. Imhave Google Alerts set up for a lot of these topics, but unless someone covers the story in English, I won’t see it.

          • Margo says:

            I was wandering if anyone else feels as I do regarding female serial killer not as rare as reported? I don’t think tier rare at all! Thank you for all interesting comments it was enlightening.

          • Brian Combs says:

            I don’t think there’s much doubt that female serial killers are rarer than their male counterparts. They’re quite a bit rarer, in fact.

            According to the US Department of Justice numbers, females commit 11.2% of all homicides, but only 6.5% of serial homicides.

            What most people don’t realize is that female serial killers tend to be active for longer and have higher body counts than males. In other words, they’re better at it.

  • mon says:

    In light of so many recent publicized cases of cannibalism, I have stumbled upon so many links that it boggles my mind.
    I did, however, read that the Chinese police normally won’t publicize cases:
    “Lackadaisical cross-provincial law enforcement is one of the two biggest flaws in the China’s policing system (the other is press censorship that keeps crimes from being exposed in the media).”
    “The new edict, ordering officials to warn of potential murderers in the community, should have prevented the public from being kept ignorant of future investigations.”

    • Brian Combs says:

      I have the feeling that this sort of thing is rather common in societies with totalitarian or authoritarian governments. The USSR, for instance, was very much the same. Andrei Chikatilo was able to kill so long at least partially because the Soviet authorities believed serial murder was a Western phenomenon.

  • mon says:

    Here’s an interesting quote on the subject pertaining to a case in China that I should have included:
    “Cannibalism is a particularly sensitive subject in China, where it was practised as a survival tactic during periods of mass starvation, for example in the wake of a failed industrialisation drive launched in the late 1950s.
    “Individual cases of cannibalism were also recorded during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, when it was carried out as a symbolic act against perceived enemies of the communist cause.”
    “Yunnan is a border province, and it’s very conscious of its relative backwardness compared with other Chinese provinces,” said Joseph Cheng, a China expert at City University of Hong Kong.”
    “It hurts the image of Yunnan province, and that’s probably the motivation for the cover-up.”

    I had also found a site where certain keywords are blocked from online searches, such as “missing in Yunnan” “torture”. Apparently, the Chinese routinely censor certain subjects online that are deemed “sensitive”.
    What an oppressive country.

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