Cops fear a cannibal killer has eaten or sold as meat at least 20 missing people, mostly boys, in a gruesome bloodbath in Yunnan province.
A 56-year-old man, Zhang Yongming, has been arrested over the disappearance of at least seven teenagers and the murder of one of them.
Police found dozens of human eyeballs preserved in alcohol inside wine bottles - like snake wine - in Zhang's home at Nanmen village in Jincheng township, Kunming.
They also found pieces of flesh, believed to be human, hanging in the house to dry.
Over the past few days, police have unearthed many bones, believed to be human remains, from a vegetable farm nearby.
It's also feared Zhang fed his three dogs with human flesh.
A special task force sent by the public security ministry in Beijing is supervising the investigation after a local police chief was sacked.
Mainland media reported that at least 20 young people living within a two-kilometer radius of the home are missing.
Police said Zhang was arrested on May 9 in connection with the disappearance of at least seven teenagers since 2007 and the murder of one of them.
Six disappeared in the past 15 months. The latest was 19-year-old worker Han Yao, who vanished on April 25.
Han, who lived in a village near Nanmen, was found murdered and his telephone card, bank card and other documents were discovered at Zhang's home.
A father told the mainland media yesterday his 17-year-old son was almost killed by Zhang in December last year.
>He said his son, Zhang Jianyuan, was walking past Zhang's home on his way from school when Zhang threw a leather belt around his neck and tried to strangle him. He released the boy when his shouts for help alerted villagers.
They reported to the police but the suspect was released when he said he was merely playing with the boy.
Earlier, parents of the missing youths appealed to local authorities to investigate Zhang but were told he was a lunatic.
One of the parents, Xie Shunsheng, said he saw Zhang selling meat in the market but did not know where he got it from.
"He has not been selling meat in recent years but I did see him once selling in the village what he claimed to be ostrich meat," said Xie, whose 16-year- old son, Haijun, disappeared on January 1 last year.
The number of victims could increase as police continue to dig over the suspect's home. One of the victims is said to be just 12.
In 1978 Zhang was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty in a murder case involving dismemberment. He was released after serving 18 years.
According to a China Daily report, Jinning county authorities have removed police chief Da Qiming.
The head of the Jincheng township police station, Zhao Huiyun, will also be dismissed.