Bizarre Tale Of Ghost Marriages — Ancient Chinese Custom Leads To Grisly Grave Robbers Selling Corpse Brides

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Mar. 7 2013, Published 2:06 p.m. ET

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"'Til death do us part," takes on a much more sinister meaning in China where the business for "ghost brides" is booming.

The strange 3,000 year old ritual, is carried out by families whose sons died before they had the chance to wed but still must be laid to rest with a wife in the reports.

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Normally the union is agreed upon by the families of the dead, but according to the Xian Evening News, four cold-hearted money-makers began digging up bodies in order to sell the corpses to mourning parents.

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The group of grave robbers  who "stole female corpses and after cleaning them, fabricated medical records and sold them for a high price," before arranging the traditional ceremonies, have been sentenced to terms between 28 and 32 months for their grisly crimes against the dead.

A court in the northern province of Shaanxi heard how the men had made a total of 240,000 yuan ($39,000) from the sale of 10 corpses in the scheme that began in the winter of 2011.  Forged medical records were created in hopes of making it appear the corpses were only recently deceased and coming from reliable sources, allowing them to charge premium prices.

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Ghost marriages are especially common in rural parts of north China where young men often die in coal mining accidents. The custom was outlawed decades ago, but since the economy began booming, many families have once again been been to afford to buy a bride for their lost son – prompting a new business of "ghost matchmakers" and a growing demand for fresh female corpses.

Disturbingly, some money-makers don't even wait for the women to die. In 2006, a man from northern Hebei province murdered six women in order to sell them as "ghost brides," reported ABC.



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