Police in China say they have captured a serial killer who murdered 11 women and girls over a 14-year period. 

Gao Chengyong, 52, was arrested at the grocery store he runs with his wife in the northwest province of Gansu, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper.

The paper said he has confessed to the murders in Gansu and the neighbouring Inner Mongolia region between 1988 and 2002. 

Gao is alleged to have targeted young women wearing red during a 14-year killing spree, following them home to rape and kill them. Some women had their throats cut and reproductive organs removed, according to reports. The youngest victim was eight years old.

Police first linked all 11 crimes in 2004, and said at the time: "The suspect has a sexual perversion and hates women. He's reclusive and unsociable, but patient."

Gao was tracked down after a relative was arrested for an unrelated crime and his DNA was collected and tested. Police said the DNA suggested that the killer was a relation, and after Gao's DNA was taken it allegedly matched that collected at the crime scenes.

Gao's son told local media that his father had experienced "bitter suffering" in his youth, failing to become a pilot for "political reasons".

Acquaintances described him as a quiet man, who was emotionally detached from his family.

No explanation was immediately provided for why the murders apparently ceased in 2002. 

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