3 Reportedly Held in 'Ghost Bride' Sale

The Associated Press
Friday, January 26, 2007; 2:49 PM

BEIJING -- Police in northern China have detained three men for the deaths of two women whose corpses were to be sold as "ghost brides" to accompany dead men in the afterlife, state media said.

Authorities indicated that the killings last year were not isolated cases, the Legal Daily newspaper said on its Web site, but it did not give any details.

Yang Dongyan, 35, a farmer from Shaanxi province, said he had bought a young woman for $1,600 and planned to sell her as a bride, according to the paper.

But then he met Liu Shenghai, who told him that the woman could command a higher price as a "ghost bride," it said. The tradition, called "minghun" or afterlife marriage, is common in the Loess Plateau region of northern China, where a recently deceased woman is buried with a bachelor to keep him company after his death.

Yang killed the woman in a ditch, bagged her body, and sold her for $2,077 to Li Longsheng, an undertaker, who said he could find a buyer, the paper said.

Yang gave Liu a portion of the profits, it added.

Yang later went to the city of Yan'an and hired a prostitute he had used before, killed her and sold her for $1,000 to Li because she was "less pretty," the paper said.

The report did not give any details of how the women were killed or how the men were detained.

"I did it to earn quick money," the paper quoted Yang as saying. "If I had not been caught this early, I would've done it again."

© 2007 The Associated Press