A man who stole a car with an infant sleeping inside turned himself in to police yesterday afternoon, saying he had strangled the baby to death, bringing a manhunt in northeast China to a tragic halt.
Changchun's citizens hold candle vigil in front of the missing baby's home, March 5, 2013. [Photo/China.org.cn]
The body of the two-month-old was found in a shallow grave near a highway, police in Gongzhuling City, Jilin Province, announced last night.
The baby's mother suffered a heart attack on hearing the news and was rushed to hospital.
The suspect, 48-year-old Zhou Xijun, a Gongzhuling native, took officers to the scene where the body of Xu Haobo was found buried in the snow. The baby had been strangled.
Police said Zhou told them he found the infant on the backseat after he drove it away from a street in Changchun, Jilin's capital, early on Monday.
Zhou killed the baby and buried him after he stopped at Yongfa Township, halfway to his destination in Shuangliao City, police said. He discarded the baby's clothes and abandoned the car, a Toyota RAV4, nearby around 8:20am yesterday.
Police had already determined Zhou was the prime suspect before he gave himself up.
The theft of the car, with the thief not knowing that a baby was sleeping inside, triggered a massive manhunt across northeastern China. More than 8,000 police officers and colleagues from neighboring provinces joined in the search while hundreds of cabbies kept a lookout on roads and expressways after a description of the car was circulated.
Several local radio channels suspended regular programing to follow the case. Jilin Traffic Radio offered a reward of up to 50,000 yuan (US$8,026) for information leading to the boy's recovery.
On Monday, at around 7:20am, the baby's father, surnamed Xu, parked his car in front of his store and went inside to turn on a stove, leaving the infant sleeping on the back seat and the engine running. Xu and his wife said they didn't want to wake him from his slumbers.
Xu left the store just minutes later to find his car, and his son, missing. He immediately called the police.
"We won't hold you accountable, only if you stop the car and ensure the safety of my child," Xu and his relatives had implored via a local traffic radio broadcast.