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A.K.A.: "The Guangzhou Ripper"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Mutilation - Dismemberment - Revenge for being cheated by a prostitute
Number of victims: 13
Date of murders: 1991 - 1996
Date of arrest: November 1996
Date of birth: 1952
Victims profile: Women (prostitutes)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife - Strangulation - Hitting with a hammer
Location: Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China
Status: Sentenced to death on December 18, 1996. Executed

December 18, 1996 - Li Wenxian: A farmer from the southern Guangdong province, China, Li was sentenced to death in the Canton Intermediate People's Court for killing 13 women.


Li Wenxian

Hard-line communist societies face a built-in disability in dealing with serial killers, since state propaganda denies the existence of crime in a "workers' paradise." Russian authorities learned the grim truth over a span of two decades from butchers like GENNADIY MIKHASEVICH (33 victims), ANDREI CHIKATILO (55 dead), ANATOLY ONOPRIENKO (at least 52 slain), and "IVAN THE RIPPER" (never publicly identified), but the notion of serial '11 new to Red China in 1991 when a faceless stalker surfaced in Guangzhou (formerly Canton).

The slasher's first victim was reportedly found on February 22, 1991, describes vaguely as a woman in her early twenties.  Her genitals were carved out with a knife, but the mutilation did not prevent police from finding unspecified "evidence of sexual intercourse."

Five more slayings followed in the next six months, each victim reportedly subjected to a sexual assault, then smothered, stabbed, or strangled, after which the bodies were dismembered, stuffed in rice bags, and dumped on rubbish heaps in the bleak suburbs where Guangzhou's "floating population" lives in dismal squalor.  And then, the murders stopped.

Thus far, there had been no press coverage of the crimes in China, marking the case as a "success" in terms of propaganda, even though the murderer remained at large.  Chinese authorities tan out of luck in March of 1992 when a seventh victim washed ashore in the nearby British colony of Hong Kong. 

As describes in the South China Morning Post, number seven had been slit from throat to stomach, then crudely stitched shut again, her fingers severed almost as an afterthought.  Because no women were reported missing from Hong Kong, ít was assumed the corpse had floated in from mainland China, and thus the "Guangzhou Ripper" was belatedly exposed.

Even then, ít was impossible for homicide investigators, reared from childhood under Communism, to believe that their system would spawn such a monster.  Zhu Minjian, head of Guangzhou's provincial Criminal Investigation Department, told reporters, "In all my thirty years with the force, I have never come across anything like this.  Perhaps he copied from the West." Zhu said there been "progress" in the case, but he was not prepared to share the details. "We're putting a lot of effort into this case", he declared. "We've got to solve it".

Still, the murders continued for another four years, some victims bludgeoned with a hammer in addition to being choked and stabbed repeatedly. Thirteen women were dead by November 1996 when the Ripper made his first mistake, leaving his latest victim alive. The woman identified her attacker as Li Wenxian, a one-time farmer from southern Guangdong province who had migrated to Guangzhou in 1991 and found work with a construction team.

In custody, Li confessed to the attacks, telling police that he was motivated by revenge against all prostitutes, since one of them had cheated him a short time after his arrival in Guangzhou. Convicted by the Intermediate People's Court on charges of murder, rape and robbery, Li was sentenced to death on December 18, 1996.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Li Wenxian (13)

This farmer from the southern Guangdong province in China is one of two entries in the Archives heralding from the People's Republic of China. Li, 44, reportedly strangled and stabbed 13 women and smashed their heads with a hammer out of revenge for being cheated by a prostitute when he first moved to Canton, Guangdong's provincial capital, to work in construction.

In all, Li took 17 women to an area in east Canton between April 1992 and November 1996. 13 women were murdered and one was seriously hurt. On December 18, 1996, the Canton Intermediate People's Court sentenced Li to death for crimes including murder, rape and robbery.



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