Police officers dedicate their entire lives to protecting their communities and civilians from crime and danger. Yet when they fail to do their job properly, it can cost innocent people their lives.
In the early 2000s, the police from a village in central China received several reports that teenage boys were disappearing at an alarming rate. They insisted that nothing was wrong and that the village was totally safe. So when the truth was finally revealed, parents were furious that their sons suffered needlessly.
A Weird Obsession
While growing up in rural China in the late 1970s and 80s, a little boy was obsessed with movies about murderers and assassins. He learned everything he could about the topic whenever he had the opportunity. And the more he learned about it, the more he dreamed of becoming an assassin when he was an adult.
A Red Flag
While growing up, the young boy didn’t keep his worrying obsession a secret. His biggest heroes were ruthless killers and he would write school papers and assignments about wanting to be a professional killer when he grew up. While talking to adults or his peers, the boy would often talk about how he just needed a chance.
Ignoring the Warning Signs
Despite all the warning signs, however, the boy’s family and his teachers failed to take him seriously. At the time, most adults assumed the little boy didn’t actually want to kill anyone. They thought he really just liked the idea of all the action and adventure.
Just a Phase
Everyone assumed the young boy was just going through a phase; eventually, he would grow out of it, grow up, and get a normal job. However, that never happened. The boy grew up, yet his obsession with killing and murderers never went away. In fact, as he got older, the obsession only got more intense.
Time to Act
As an adult, Huang Yong was a migrant worker and lived in a small home on the outskirts of Dahuangzhuang, which is a large village in the Henan Province of China. After years of thinking about what it would be like to kill someone, Yong decided to finally act on those thoughts.
The Search Begins
In 2001, Yong began his search for his first victim. The village had a few Internet cafes and video game arcades. Yong decided the cafes were the perfect places to find and stalk his victims. That year, Yong found a boy and convinced him to come back to his home, where he lived alone.
The Intelligent Wooden Horse
Once Yong convinced the boy to come with him that night, he brought him to a shed behind his home. Inside, he had a device set up that he called the “intelligent wooden horse,” which was a modified table that Yong had built out of a stand used for making noodles. Yong used the table to restrain, rape and strangle his victims to death.
The Urge Returns
Once the boy was dead, Yong buried him on his property. The only thing he kept from his victim was his belt. After that first kill, Yong was thrilled that he finally did the very thing he had idolized his entire life. It wasn’t long before he felt the urge to kill again.
The Search Continues
So Yong went back to the gaming arcades and Internet cafes where boys and young men spent hours at a time playing games. Yong quickly developed a system for stalking his victims. After watching the young men, Yong would pick his target and get them to go home with him.
The Modus Operandi
According to local authorities, Yong would approach the young men and convince them to go back to his house by promising them a nice dinner or a well-paying job. Once they arrived back at Yong’s house, he would offer them something to drink, which was usually mixed with sleep-inducing drugs. Yong would use other methods, too (physically beating them, for example) to render them unconscious.
The Shed of Horrors
After the victims lost consciousness, Yong would drag them to the shed behind his house, where the intelligent wooden horse was waiting. Yong would then prop his victims up on the modified table and proceed to rape them. Once he was finished, he strangled his victims with a rope.
A Worrying Trend
In the months that followed Yong’s first kill, teenagers from the village began vanishing without a trace. It was estimated that Yong raped and murdered around 20 teenage boys in his shed. Once he was finished with his victims, he would just bury them on his property. Sometimes, he just left his victims to rot in the shed.
Like his first victim, Yong kept the rest of his victims’ belts if they were wearing one on the night of their deaths. It wasn’t long before people in the village started to notice that teenage boys were going missing and took their concerns to the police. But the police assured them the village was perfectly safe.
Rather than looking into the reports of missing boys, the police spent their time assuring citizens that nothing sinister was going on. Meanwhile, Yong’s bloodlust was getting out of control. He was getting increasingly vicious and started taking bigger risks.
A Parent’s Worst Nightmare
At one point, Yong left the severed hands of several of his victims on the doorsteps of the Internet cafes and gaming arcades where he had found and stalked the boys. When the police failed to do anything, the parents of the missing boys traveled to Zhengzhou, the capital of the province. They hoped that by telling officials in the capital what was going on that authorities would have to do something.
The Village Troublemaker
Despite the desperate parents’ pleas to find their sons, the police still didn’t do much to get to the bottom of the vanishing teenagers. It wasn’t until a 16-year-old boy named Zhang Lei went to police that the case was taken more seriously. Local police from the village knew Lei as a troublemaker. So when they first heard that Lei was claiming to have been abducted and attacked by a serial killer, they didn’t believe him. The police were sure he was making it all up for attention, but then they saw his stomach…
Doctors discovered multiple needle wounds on Lei’s stomach, which indicated that he had been drugged. At that point, the police finally started taking Lei seriously and listened to his entire story. According to Lei, Yong first approached him and told him that he had developed a new game called “God Riding a Wooden Horse.” Yong asked Lei if he would go test it out, and he agreed.
The Brutal Assault
Once back at the house, Yong told Lei the game was played by being tied to a table and counting to a thousand. The last thing Lei remembers was that Yong started choking him with a rope. At some point, Lei woke up and Yong was raping him. He passed out again, but Lei would wake up two more times during the assault.
The Police Raid
Each time he was awake, Lei would talk to Yong and talk him out of killing him. During one conversation, Lei promised to take care of Yong when he was older. As soon as Yong left him alone, Lei broke free from the shed and ran for his life. Police raided Yong’s home and found an endless amount of evidence, including the victims’ belts and even several victims who were still tied up in the shed. According to the police, the table that Yong raped and murdered his victims on was covered in feces and semen.
Police finally arrested Yong on November 12, 2003. During his trial, Yong not only showed no remorse for his actions, but he spoke out saying that he was happy that he got to live out his dream. During the trial, the victims’ families condemned Yong but also criticized the police for failing to act faster and stopping Yong earlier. Yong was sentenced to death on December 9, 2003, and was finally executed on the 26th by a single gunshot to the head.