Police in southwest China have detained a man suspected of murdering more than a dozen boys and young men, chopping up their bodies and selling the flesh to unsuspecting consumers.
Zhang Yongming, 56, was detained two weeks ago in Nanmen village in Yunnan province and is being investigated over the murder of a 19-year-old man in late April, the Guangxi News website reported.
Police searching Zhang's home found the young man's cellphone, bank card and other evidence, according to the website, which said more than a dozen other teenagers had gone missing from the village over the years.
It said Zhang had previously served almost 20 years in jail for murder.
Zhang was known in the village as the "cannibal monster," the site reported, quoting residents as saying they had seen green plastic bags hanging from his home, with what appeared to be white bones protruding from the top.
Local police declined comment when contacted by AFP Friday, saying information would be made available "at an appropriate time", and other reports on the gruesome case appeared to have been removed from Chinese websites.
But Hong Kong newspaper The Standard said Friday that police entering Zhang's home discovered human eyeballs preserved inside wine bottles and pieces of what appeared to be human flesh hanging in the house to dry.
Police feared that Zhang had fed human flesh to his three dogs, while selling other parts on the market, calling it "ostrich meat", according to The Standard.
Beijing has dispatched a team of experts to Yunnan to supervise the investigation into the missing teenagers and two local police chiefs have been dismissed from their positions, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Families of the missing suspected that they had been kidnapped and forced to work in illegal brick kilns, Xinhua said, adding that the government had urged a swift resolution to the case.