BEIJING, Apr 12 (AP) -- A man with a history of rape has been charged in the murders of six children in northeast China, state media reported Tuesday, as police admitted they were too slow to curtail the serial killer's horrific spree.
Wu Heping, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Public Security in Beijing, acknowledged Tuesday that police might have been able to prevent the killings if mistakes hadn't been made before and during the investigation into Gong Runbo, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
"Sadly, six dead kids may have died because of our failings," Wu was quoted as saying, referring to criticisms of the investigation and police actions.
Gong, 33, who had earlier served an eight-year prison term for raping girls, is accused of killing six boys after luring them to his rented apartment in Jiamusi, Heilongjiang Province. He allegedly sexually abused some of them before murdering them.
He was arrested February 28, when one boy managed to escape from the apartment and call the police. Gong was captured in a nearby Internet cafe, Xinhua said.
Police said they discovered four decomposing bodies and children's clothing in his apartment.
Local police have been criticized for their slow response to missing children reports, and the victims' families have called for compensation.
"Police at each level should learn from this case by paying more attention to cases of missing kids and responding faster in similar investigations," Wu said, according to Xinhua.
Local police have taken "serious action" to remedy their failings, he said, and the provincial police chief has ordered intensive inspections of rental homes, migrant populations, and cases of missing people. School security is also being reviewed, Xinhua quoted him as saying.
"Despite the government's ban on minors in Internet bars, Gong was taking these kids in and out of a local Internet cafe without being confronted or reported to the police," Wu added.