Yang Xinhai, 35, was put to death a fortnight after he received his sentence at the Luohe City Intermediate People's Court in central China's Henan province, the sina.com website reported. 

Yang, characterised as an introverted drifter, had not appealed his death sentence, according to the report.

Executions in China are usually carried out with a bullet to the back of the head. 

Yang was said to have bicycled from one murder scene to the next beginning in 2000, and was not caught until November last year.

He later confessed that if he had not been caught, he would have carried his murder spree to Tianjin, a city of 10 million near Beijing, and then perhaps to the capital, sina.com said.

A deranged killer

Police have listed robbery and rape as motives in the case, but Yang was also described as a deranged killer who simply enjoyed what he was doing.

Yang, a Henan province native, had already been imprisoned once on charges of burglary and rape.

Reports of serial killings began appearing with unusual frequency in the Chinese media late last year, highlighting the growing threat of crime felt by many people.

Child poisoning case

Meanwhile, a court in central China has sentenced to death a farmer who poisoned 161 children at the school where he was employed, state media said on Saturday.

Xu Guohua was sentenced at the Yueyang Intermediate People's Court in Hunan province "recently," the Xinhua news agency reported. 

At the time of his sentencing, 26 of the children were still sick from the poisoning and had not yet been released from hospital.

Xu was upset after seeing his benefits at the school reduced,
and laced food in the school kitchen with rat poison at some point last fall, according to Xinhua. 

The poison wound up in cakes that were prepared for the children on 23 September, it said.