TAIYUAN, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Police in north China's Shanxi Province detained three people suspected of stealing a female corpse from a village tomb to sell as bride for the ancient rite of "netherworld marriage."
The main suspect in the case, a 72-year-old man surnamed Hou, said he was tempted by the idea of selling female bodies as brides to deceased single men when hearing the death of a young woman in a nearby village, according to the public security bureau of Ruicheng County.
They later claimed to be relatives of the woman and found a buyer who agreed to purchase the body, priced at 25,000 yuan (3,900 U.S. dollars). But their tomb raid on Saturday night was discovered by local villagers, whose reports led to their arrest.
Once popular in some parts of China, a "netherworld marriage" claims that a man who dies unwed would bring bad luck to the family, so he must be buried with a female corpse as a ritual symbolizing a wedding of the deceased.
In 2012, three men murdered a pregnant woman in Shaanxi Province and sold her body as a ghost bride in a case that prompted a national outcry against this grisly tradition.