Chinese murder suspect with lots of public sympathy dies after more than a week on the run

It all started on October 10th, when 55-year-old Ou Jinzhong allegedly killed two of his neighbors and wounded three others in China’s southern Fujian province. Police said that Ou killed a 78-year-old man, his daughter-in-law, and also injured the man’s wife, 34-year-old grandson, and 9-year-old great-grandson over a land dispute. He supposedly fled to the hills where hundreds of police and search crew members have been searching for him over the past week.

The manhunt seized the attention of millions of people in the Chinese public, with many of them openly admitting to hoping that Ou would never be caught, which is weird that an alleged murderer would get this kind of traction, especially in a country where murder is punishable by death. It’s believed that because there was no official information on the case, the Chinese media had to use the accounts of fellow villagers and Ou’s social media posts on a platform called Weibo to piece together their own story.

The conclusion by many was that Ou was just an ordinary person, one that was pushed to the limit over a housing dispute that lasted for years. According to Ou’s posts, he was prohibited from building his own house because of land disputes with his neighbor. He and his family did not have a proper home, and they instead had to live in a tiny tin shack in a little seaside village by Putian city for almost five years. Ou tried time and time again to receive help from village officials, police, and the government, but to no avail. The public sympathized further with Ou when they learned the stories about how he had saved a boy from drowning 30 years ago, and how he had also rescued two stranded dolphins in 2008.

As the murders gained more and more public attention, Ou’s Weibo account vanished, and Pinghai county’s local government put out a bounty on Ou. There was a higher offer on proof of his death rather than just information leading to his arrest, which angered the public. 

The bounty for Ou that was issued by Pinghai County People’s government on October 10 (Photo provided by Pinghai County People’s Government

Moreover, on Monday evening, it was announced that Ou had killed himself while resisting arrest when police found him in a cave. Many were outraged and deeply saddened by the news, and some denied believing that Ou had killed himself. “He killed himself immediately after he was found? The public will not be so easily convinced,” said a comment on Weibo. 

People have begun to call for police to release the footage of the arrest since many police in China are oftentimes required to record arrests with body cameras. Many blame the reason for Ou’s violent transition on the country’s local government for abuse of power, and others see it as a reflection of a failure of the country’s legal and bureaucratic system. “He hasn’t enjoyed (the protection) of the law his whole life,” said another comment.


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