Four officials in Gaogong Town in eastern China's Anhui Province have been detained for mistaking a badly beaten high school student as a dead tramp and asking a funeral car from the civil affairs bureau to take the "body" away.
Compounding the problem, the driver, Zhou Yuzhu, instead of taking the girl to a crematory, dumped her about 10 kilometers away in Erlang Township, leaving the half-naked girl lying in a dried ditch in zero degrees Celsius for the night. That marked the second straight night the girl spent helpless in a ditch.
Still, the girl, identified as Xiao Li, was reported in stable condition after emergency treatment for injuries that included skull fractures suffered in an attack on March 11, the Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.
Xiao Li was hit in the head by an attacker after she left a bus stop and was walking home in Qianli Village, the Xin'an Evening News reported yesterday.
The 18-year-old girl was found almost lifeless in a dried ditch the next afternoon by a villager in Gaogong Town.
"Her pants were stripped off; her face was swollen; and her hair was covered with dirt and leaves. It was hard for us to recognize she was Xiao Li," said the villager surnamed Yang, according to the newspaper.
Local police were summoned and thought the girl was a tramp who had frozen to death. The officers called for a funeral car to take her away, without contacting a coroner to verify her death, the paper said.
Many onlookers said the girl was still alive but police ignored them, local people said.
On the morning of March 13, people in Erlang Township found Xiao Li where the funeral car driver had dumped her and called police and an ambulance. Finally, the girl was admitted to a local hospital for treatment, the paper said.
One of Xiao Li's classmates said she received a short message from the girl's mobile phone around 6:30pm on March 11, which read "I am home for dinner," even though the girl didn't show up at her home at all.
About 90 minutes later, the friend received a series of eight wordless text messages from Xiao Li, who apparently was trying to text for help but was too weak.
Prosecutors and police in Guoyang County, which administer Gaogong Town, have launched an investigation into the case. The local police station chief, Zhang Jianfei, and other three officials - Jiang Zhongchang, Wang Ruipu and Zhou Yuzhu - have been accused of neglecting their duties, Xinhua said.