A Chinese man with Down’s syndrome was kidnapped, drugged, stuffed in a coffin and cremated alive in place of a wealthy stranger – who wanted to bypass a government ban on burials.
The wealthy deceased man – known only by his surname Huang – died from cancer in February, 2017, and told his family before he died that he wished to be buried, according to the South China Morning Post.
The family hired someone to find a substitute body that could be cremated in place of their relative’s.
But unknown to them, the man they hired committed murder to provide the body.
The victim, a man called Lin Shaoren who was then 36 and had Down’s syndrome, was picking rubbish along the road on March 1, 2017, near his home in Lufeng when Huang abducted him and made him drink a large volume of alcohol.
The hired man then placed Mr Lin unconscious into a coffin and sealed it with four steel nails.
The coffin was then swapped with the wealthy man’s when it was due to be sent for cremation.
Mr Lin was cremated while Huang’s body was taken to a secluded area for a traditional family burial.
Relatives paid 107,000 yuan ($21,000) for the evil scheme, of which 90,000 yuan ($17,800) went to Huang while the rest went to a middleman identified by the surname Wen.
Mr Lin was listed as a missing person for two years before his family discovered he had been murdered in November 2019, after police used surveillance footage to solve the crime, Sohu News reported.
Huang was given a suspended death sentence by a court, and the case has only gained prominence this week as Chinese media reports emerged.
Burials are banned in much of China, particularly in large cities.
Authorities argue cremation saves land space and is more environmentally friendly.
But some families go to great lengths to avoid cremation, with many believing burial is the only way the dead will be at peace.