Three suspects in two separate murders in Shanghai about 16 years ago were caught earlier this month using facial recognition technology, police said yesterday.
All three, from out of town, had changed their names but were caught after police began integrating the technology into criminal investigations last month.
Two of them, a married couple, are suspected of murdering a man surnamed Jin in Changning District in September, 2000.
The male suspect, surnamed Wu, traveled to Shanghai from Wuhan and allegedly killed Jin who was said to have had an affair with his wife, the female suspect surnamed Zhou, police said.
The couple fled Shanghai. But last month, city police using facial recognition soon found a man in Kunming, Yunnan Province, strongly resembling Wu, although he has a beard, a different name and is about 50 kilograms heavier than the original description.
"Many criminals change their names when living the life of fugitives because in this country there is no way that they take a train, stay at a hotel or be legally employed with their real identities once they're put on a nationwide wanted list," said Shi Yuxiang, an official from Shanghai criminal police.
Shi said the facial recognition technology is smart enough to single out those with high similarities to that of a suspect, however much he or she may look different from many years ago.
"In this case, the software returned over 40 results for us to find out who is mostly likely to be Wu," he said.
Police traveled to Kunming in July for Wu, who was running a hotel there with his wife, Zhou.
Both admitted their real identities.
Meanwhile, the suspect in a murder case in 2001, a man surnamed Yao, has been discovered by the police using the same technology this month, although he had changed his surname to Zhao and has been living in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province.
In November, 2001, Yao allegedly killed his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend in Chuansha Town, Pudong, and then fled. Yao also has confessed, police said.