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Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Cold: Women Spent 17 Years Searching across China for the Five At-large Murderers of Her Husband

By Luo Ensi (People's Daily Online)    04:04, October 05, 2016

Li Guiying, her husband, and their five kids

Li Guiying received the verdict for the last two of her husband’s murderers on September 30, 2016. One received a life sentence and the other got 15 years of jail time. Li and her family released the decision publicly on October 4th. At this point, all five of the murderers of Li’s husband have been arrested, thanks to leads she gave to police.

Approaching 60 years of age and as a mother of five, Li Guiying has spent almost a third of her life searching for the five men guilty of murdering her husband.

Li Guiying and her kids

17 years ago, Li’s husband Qi Yuande was a schoolteacher in a small village in central China’s Henan province. Li was a village official. One day a fellow villager named Qi Xueshan suspected Li of conspiring to report him and his family for breaching the then effective one-child policy. In a fit of rage he beat Li with a brick, eventually calling upon his four male siblings to help attack her with daggers and cleavers. Qi Yuande, enraged, came to his wife’s help with a sickle. The five men overpowered Qi Yuande, stabbing him to death. Li was severely injured and hospitalized. That night, the killers fled town.

Over the next 17 years, Li dedicated her life to finding the men and ensuring they were locked up. The journey’s brought her to over a dozen provinces and cities across China, as she searched for clues to give police. Her methodology was simple: she asked around. She asked her fellow villagers, and once she had any clue about the suspects' whereabouts, she set out with their photos and headed to the place without hesitation. When she get there, she would begin another round of listening to the local grapevine for clues.

Plain and simple as the methodology may seem, it worked. Two of the five suspects, Qi Xueshan and Qi Baoshan were captured in Beijing and Shanxi shortly after the murder. They were sentenced to 15 years in prison. A third suspect, Qi Jinshan was captured in Urumqi, China’s northwestern Xinjiang province, in the spring of 2011. Qi Jinshan originally received the death sentence, but a provincial-level court overrode the decision while reinvestigating the case. He appealed and the case is still being heard. This June, the final two suspects Qi Haiying and Qi Kuojun were arrested and charged with premeditated intentional homicide.

Li Guiying is waiting for the final verdicts.

Li Guiying

Looking back to her legendary quest, she remembered the first time she went to the police station. “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Do you have any clues? If you do, we’ll go arrest them” was the only reply she got from local officers.

“I didn’t know. I thought arresting murderers would be like those TV dramas. The criminals flee, and the police officers blare their way through in a police car chasing them. It turned out I needed to find the leads myself,” Li Guiying said.

The train tickets Li Guiying collected in her 17-year quest

Li has her doubts about whether the police have done their part. One doubt resides in the fact that one of the killers has changed his name from Qi Haiying to Qi Haoji, registered exactly by the same local police station around the year 2000. Qi Haiying had his photo taken there, and left unrecognized with a new ID card.

According to a Beijing News report, the police station cited a heavy workload as a reason for failing to identify a culprit changing identification. In fact, Han Baocheng, previously known as Qi Jinshan, had also successfully evaded authorities when registering to change his name in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Many believe Li’s search spanning almost two decades to be a consequence of police incompetence. Had she herself not dedicated her life to the case, it would surely have gone unsolved.

This kind of institutional incompetence has trigged heaps of online criticism. The top-voted comment on thepaper.com’s most recent article reads, “Those responsible for handling the case-the police, the police captain, the head of District Public Security Bureau, and the head of the Municipal Public Security Bureau-should all resign. Don’t they feel such a loss of face?”

The quest, however, has not yet ended. “My next step is to comb through who assisted with the fleeing of the five suspects,” Li Guiying said. “Who hid them when they ran, who saw them off, who changed their names on their ID cards. And the police, why don’t they take the initiative to pursue them? It’s a dereliction of duty. Anyone who should be held responsible in this will not be able to escape.”

Li’s only regret is that the quest for avenging her husband’s death robbed her of time with her five children. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Zou Luxiao, Bianji)

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