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Chinese police suspect an aunt — who just days later killed herself — was responsible for gouging out the eyes of a six-year-old boy, state media said early Wednesday.
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, Chinese media reported previously.
His eyes, gouged out by a woman with dyed yellow hair who lured him to a field, were recovered nearby.
Authorities have now made the boy's aunt, who committed suicide on Friday, their prime suspect, the state Xinhua news agency said, quoting police.
The aunt, which Xinhua named as Zhang Huiying, killed herself by jumping into a village well. Zhang was the wife of Guo's father's older brother.
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.