An award-winning Chinese writer has been detained on the suspicion that he murdered four people almost 22 years ago, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Tuesday.
The suspect, 53-year-old Liu Yongbiao, was apprehended at his home in Nanling County in eastern China’s Anhui province on Friday. According to police, he confessed to the crime, saying: “I’ve been waiting for you here all this time.”
On the evening of Nov. 29, 1995, four people were murdered during a robbery at a family-owned guesthouse in Huzhou, a city in neighboring Zhejiang province. The establishment’s two owners, their grandson, and one guest were killed by trauma to the head from a blunt object.
At the time, staff at the guesthouse recalled that two guests with Anhui accents had checked in before the crime. Police then launched an investigation in Anhui but failed to make any headway. Because the suspect was not related to the victims, police had few clues to go on, Xu Zhicheng, one of the officers handling the case, told The Paper.
After the case had long gone cold, there was a breakthrough in August of this year, in part due to DNA testing. Police zeroed in on Liu’s village, and based on further investigation and questioning now believe that Liu and a fellow villager surnamed Wang, a 64-year-old entrepreneur, committed the 1995 murders.
A police officer from Huzhou told The Paper that the two suspects planned to rob the guesthouse because they were in need of money.
Born in the countryside of Anhui, one of China’s poorest provinces, Liu became a writer after he failed to enter university. His first writing was published in a magazine owned by the literature federation of Hefei, the provincial capital, in 1985. He was admitted to the Communist Party-led China Writers Association in 2013, becoming one of just 13 members from Anhui province.
Liu’s literary breakthrough came in 2005, when his novel “A Film” was published by the Writers Publishing House — the country’s first major book publisher. Besides fame, the novel brought Liu a series of accolades, and a romance novel published in 2014 was later adapted to become a 50-episode TV show.
Since Liu’s arrest, one of his most well-known works has taken on a macabre significance. “The Guilty Secret,” published in 2010, describes life from the perspective of several poor farmers. In the book’s preface, Liu wrote: “I want to create a novel about a beautiful female writer who has killed many people, yet the cases remain unsolved.”
When Liu was taken into custody, he handed police a letter he had written to his wife, whom he had never told about the murders. “I can finally be free from the mental torment I’ve endured for so long,” Liu wrote in the letter.
Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.
(Header image: Photonica/VCG)