Stranger than fiction: Crime writer has secret murderous past

A crime writer who titled one of his novels The Guilty Secret had allegedly been harboring a terrible secret of his own, as fiction blended with reality in a 22-year-old murder case.

As reported by China Daily, 53-year-old author Liu Yongbiao was arrested Friday at his home in Nanling County, Anhui province, China for allegedly bludgeoning four people to death at a guesthouse in Zhejiang province on November 29, 1995. Another suspect in the murders, a 64-year-old entrepreneur identified only by the surname Wang, was arrested a few hours later in Shanghai, based on information provided by Liu.

According to police, Wang, now the legal representative of an investment company, had been living and working in Zhili, a town in Huzhou, Zheijiang province, for two years at the time of the 1995 murders. He and his friend Liu were staying at a family-owned guesthouse in the small town. The two men tried to rob a guest by the surname of Yu, but when the victim confronted them, they killed him.

In an attempt to hide their crime, the pair also allegedly bludgeoned to death the elderly couple who ran the hostel, along with their 13-year-old grandson.

After a series of interviews with other guests and neighbors, police were able to develop criminal sketches of the two suspects. However, the investigation was impeded by the absence of security cameras within the hostel and surrounding area as well as limitations in the ID registration process.

Shen Lianjiang, deputy director of the Huzou public security bureau, explained the challenges hindering the search for the murderers to China Daily.

“We reopened the investigation several times over the years, there was no progress until we used new DNA technology when we reopened the case again in June.”

Shen added that authorities searched approximately 60,000 fingerprint files before finally finding a match.
As reported by the Chinese news site The Sixth Tone, Liu is an award-winning writer who was born in Anhui, one of China’s poorest provinces. He was first published in a magazine in 1985, and his novel A Film was published in 2005. Another novel published in 2014 was later adapted into a 50-episode television show. In 2013, Liu was inducted into the China Writers Association.

In the preface to his 2010 novel The Guilty Secret, the author wrote, “I want to create a novel about a beautiful female writer who has killed many people, yet the cases remain unsolved.”

According to The Sixth Tone, Liu told the arresting officers, “I’ve been waiting for you here all this time.”

At the time of his arrest, he allegedly handed police a letter he had written to his wife, who was unaware of his involvement in the crimes.

In the letter, Liu wrote, “I can finally be free from the mental torment I’ve endured for so long.”