Aunt jumps to her death down village well covered in his blood; Family Disputes Police Findings
- Youngster snatched while playing outside home in Linfen, Shanxi Province
- His aunt Zhang Huiying, who later killed herself, is the prime suspect
- He may regain some degree of sight following the operation
- Offers of support pouring in – including free operation and education
An aunt of a six-year-old Chinese boy who had his eyes gouged out has become the police’s prime suspect, state media has said.
The blinded boy, Guo Bin, was found covered in blood in the northern province of Shanxi after he went missing while playing outside on August 24.
Authorities have now made the boy’s aunt, Zhang Huiying, who committed suicide on Friday by jumping down a village well, their prime suspect, the state Xinhua news agency said.
The boy’s blood was found on the aunt’s clothes after DNA tests, according to a statement from police in the city of Linfen, Xinhua said, adding police investigations also pointed towards her.
Initial reports had said the corneas were missing when the boy’s eyes were found, leading to speculation that the attacker was an organ trafficker, but police later ruled out organ sales as a motive saying the corneas had been found attached to the eyeballs.
Police had offered a 100,000 yuan ($16,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of the sole suspect. Reports said the little boy had been drugged before his eyeballs were gouged out.
The brutal attack on the boy — who has a cleft palate — shocked Internet users in China, who demanded retribution.
Doctors plan to implant artificial eyeballs in the boy’s eye sockets after his inflammation subsides so that people will not be scared by his appearance in future, his uncle said, according to earlier media reports.
He is said to be in a stable condition and set to have artificial eyes implanted in three months.
The electronic ocular implants may enable Guo to regain some degree of sight, and the family has already received an offer from a Hong Kong surgeon to perform the operation free of charge.
Guo’s attack has triggered an outpouring of support within China, as well as frustration that his assailant has not been found.
China Daily reports: ‘Donations have been flowing in since reports about the boy hit the headlines late last month, and Guo Zhiping said the amount has reached 800,000 yuan (£83,686).
The suicide of Guo Bin’s aunt on Saturday sparked public suspicion that she might be the assailant, but Guo Zhiping said it was impossible because the two families are on good terms.
A vice-president of a school for blind children in Taiyuan, surnamed Li, said that the school would accept Guo Bin and exempt his tuition fees if he wants to attend it.
His family found him covered in blood and crying in pain three to four hours after the attack in a rural area of Linfen city in Shanxi province.
The Beijing Times newspaper quoted the parents of the boy, whose family name is Guo according to police, as saying that their son had told them he was walking along a path when he was grabbed by a woman. She used an unspecified tool to gouge out his eyes, they said.
An entire eye cannot be transplanted, but a cornea could be vital for a patient with faltering vision.
Guo Bin’s devastated father said: ‘We didn’t notice his eyes were gone when we discovered him – he had blood all over his face. We thought he had fallen down and smashed his face.’
The boy was rushed to hospital where doctors were shocked to find his eyes had been removed. His father said: ‘His eyelids were turned inside out, and his eyeballs were not there.’
Guo Bin was shown on state TV being taken in bandages from an operating theatre to a hospital bed, writhing in agony as his shocked family wept.
China Central Television said he had been drugged and ‘lost consciousness’ before the attacker removed his eyes.
His parents discovered he was missing when they called for him to come in around 8pm on Monday but received no response.
After a frantic search with relatives, they found him screaming in a field near their home in Fenxi, north China. The kidnapper had reportedly told Guo Bin: ‘Don’t cry and I won’t gouge out your eyes.’