Three men murdered two mentally disabled women to sell their corpses as ‘ghost brides’ for dead bachelors, police have alleged.
One of the men posed as a matchmaker for the women but killed them with an injection of drugs before taking them hundreds of miles to face a grim burial.
“Ghost weddings” date back almost 3,000 years, and involve elderly bachelors being given “brides” to be buried with when they die.
Families in rural China consider it bad luck for a single man to pass into the afterlife without a female companion at his side.
And despite efforts by Beijing to clamp down on superstitions, demand is said to be increasing for female corpses.
The three men, who police said were called Ma, Tang and An, sold one of the women’s corpses for 35,000 yuan (£3,980).
The men, who are all from China’s northwest Gansu province, were stopped by police in April when they were driving the body of a woman to Shaanxi for the ghost wedding.
Ma confessed that he told the woman that they would find her a groom before injecting her with powerful sedatives which killed her.
He killed a woman in similar circumstances in February and sold the body in Shaanxi. He now faces murder charges while his two accomplices face charges relating to human trafficking and concealing the murder.
Corpses of younger women can be sold for up to £10,000
The Daily Telegraph