The newspaper went on to say the sons killed their mother, as they believed their dead father's ghost possessed her. The woman was said to be highly superstitious and had instilled similar beliefs in her sons.
She also kept using her husband's tone of voice to speak to her sons, once telling them: "If you don't treat me well, I will drag you with me (to death)."
After killing their mother, the three sons locked the remaining nine members of the family in a room while they slashed cleavers in the air to "kill" their father's ghost.
"It's the first time we've come across something like this"
officer, Nankou police substation
"Three people have been detained. Based on what they described to us, it was because they thought their mother was possessed by their father's spirit," an officer at the Nankou police substation in Beijing's rural Changping district said.
"It's the first time we've come across something like this," he continued, but refused to further comment.
The sons later set fire to the house after killing two of the family dogs and splashing blood on the doors and windows, in the belief that it would ward off evil spirits.
In a similar case, a teenager killed his mother with a cleaver in Beijing. He was apparently angry that she had failed to get him a birthday cake and beat him for poor grades in school.
Zhao Ping, 16, often fought with his mother who stopped him from going out to play, the Star Daily reported.
On 10 November, Zhao hid a cleaver in his bedroom. Later that night, he excused himself while taking lessons in English words from his mother, grabbed the knife and stabbed her repeatedly.
After making sure his mother was dead, Zhao took off his bloodstained clothes, took a shower and rode his bicycle to an internet cafe.
Police arrested him four days later, but he showed no regret, instead telling an investigator: "I felt like a bird let out of a cage in the past few days. So happy. Take me away. Jail would also definitely be better than home."