Yang Xinhai (Chinese: 杨新海; 29 July 1968 – 14 February 2004), also known as Yang Zhiya, and Yang Liu, was a Chinese serial killer who confessed to committing 67 murders and 23 rapes between 1999 and 2003, and was sentenced to death and executed for 67. He was dubbed the "Monster Killer" by the media. He is the most prolific known serial killer China has seen since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
Yang was born on 29 July 1968 in Zhengyang County, Henan. His family was one of the poorest in their village. The youngest of four children, Yang was clever and introverted. He dropped out of school in 1985, at age 17, and refused to return home, instead travelling around China and working as a labourer.
In 1988 and 1991, Yang was sentenced to labour camps for theft in Xi'an, Shaanxi and Shijiazhuang, Hebei. In 1996, he was sentenced to five years in prison for attempted rape in Zhumadian, Henan and released in 1999.
Yang's killings took place between 1999 and 2003 in the provinces of Anhui, Hebei, Henan and Shandong. At night, he would enter his victims' homes, and kill all of the occupants—mainly farmers—with axes, hammers, and shovels, sometimes killing entire families. Each time he wore new clothes and large shoes.
In October 2002, Yang killed a father and a six-year-old girl with a shovel and raped a pregnant woman, who survived the attack with serious head injuries.
Arrest, trial and execution
Yang was detained on 3 November 2003 after acting suspiciously during a routine police inspection of entertainment venues in Cangzhou, Hebei. Police took him in for questioning and discovered that he was wanted for murder in four provinces. As news of his arrest and crimes spread, the media dubbed him the "Monster Killer".
Shortly after he was arrested, Yang confessed to 65 murders, 23 rapes and five attacks causing serious injury: 49 murders, 17 rapes and five attacks in Henan; eight murders and three rapes in Hebei; six murders and two rapes in Anhui; and two murders and one rape in Shandong. Police also matched his DNA with that found at several crime scenes. Later it was discovered that Yang contracted HIV from one of his victims.
On 1 February 2004, Yang was found guilty of 67 murders and 23 rapes, and sentenced to death in Luohe City Intermediate People's Court, Henan. At the time of his sentencing, official Chinese media believed he had carried out China's longest and grisliest killing spree. Yang was executed on 14 February 2004 by firing squad.
According to some media reports at the time of his arrest, Yang's motive for the killings was revenge against society as a result of a break up. Allegedly his girlfriend had left him because of his previous sentences for theft and rape. Later media reports claimed that his enjoyment of robbery, rape and murder was the motive.
While Yang never formally provided a motive, he was quoted as saying:
"When I killed people I had a desire. This inspired me to kill more. I don't care whether they deserve to live or not. It is none of my concern...I have no desire to be part of society. Society is not my concern."
List of his serial murders
- 19 September 2000, Guozhuang Village, Beijiao Township, Chuanhui District, Zhoukou, Henan, 2 murders
- 1 October 2000, Chunshuzhuang, Xiaoying Village, Wangdian Town, Yingzhou District, Fuyang, Anhui, 3 murders, 1 rape
- 15 August 2001, Fangcheliu Village, Juling Township, Linying County, Luohe, Henan, 3 murders, 1 rape
- Autumn 2001, Kanglou Township, Xihua County, Zhoukou , Henan, 2 murders
- Winter 2001, a village southeast of the county town of Ye County, Pingdingshan, Henan, 2 murders
- 27 January 2002, Tongxu County, Kaifeng, Henan, 3 murders, 1 rape
- 30 June 2002, Chaigang Township, Fugou County, Zhoukou , Henan, 4 murders, 1 rape
- 28 July 2002, Dengzhou, Nanyang, Henan, 4 murders, 2 rapes
- 22 October 2002, Zhaihu Village, Songji Township, Xiping County, Zhumadian , Henan, 2 murders, 1 rape, 1 seriously injured
- 8 November 2002, Gaoli Village, Shaodian Township, Shangcai County, Zhumadian , Henan, 4 murders, 2 rapes, 1 seriously injured
- 16 November 2002, Liuzhuang Village, Zhangshi Town, Weishi County, Kaifeng , Henan, 2 murders, 1 rape
- 19 November 2002, Shiguai Village, Wangmeng Township, Linying County, Luohe , Henan, 2 murders
- 1 December 2002, Yanwan Village, Wangpiliu Town, Luyi County, Zhoukou , Henan, 2 murders, 1 rape, 1 seriously injured
- 6 December 2002, Liuzhuang Village, Renhe Township, Xiping County, Zhumadian , Henan, 5 murders, 1 rape
- 13 December 2002, Sijia Village, Malan Township, Yanling County, Xuchang, Henan, 2 murders
- 15 December 2002, Xiaolizhuang, Miaocha Town, Linquan County, Fuyang , Anhui, 3 murders, 1 rape
- 5 February 2003, Kuzhuang Township, Xiangcheng County, Xuchang , Henan, 3 murders, 1 rape, 1 seriously injured
- 18 February 2003, Chiying Township, Xihua County, Zhoukou , Henan, 4 murders, 2 rapes
- 23 March 2003, Chengguan Town, Minquan County, Shangqiu, Henan, 4 murders, 1 rape
- 2 April 2003, Sanlizhai Village, Taoyuan Town, Cao County, Heze, Shandong, 2 murders
- 5 August 2003, Lidao Village, Xingtai, Hebei, 3 murders
- 8 August 2003, Dongliangxiang Village, Qiaoxi District, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, 5 murders
Totals: 26 incidents, 67 murders, 23 rapes, 10 intentional serious injuries