A Chinese man suspected of murder acted as a mute in order to throw police off scent - Representational image REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Chinese authorities have finally been able to arrest a man they suspect was responsible for a murder in 2005. Referred to by his surname, Zeng, faked being a mute for 12 years in order to throw the police off his scent, but is now unable to speak.

According to Newsweek, Zeng has been accused of killing his wife's uncle in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, after the two got into an argument over $76 worth of rent. As the dispute became more heated, the man attacked his spouse's relative and stabbed him to death.

Following the murder, he took on a false identity of Wang Gui. He pretended to be a mute and started living as a beggar, eventually moving to Haozhou in the Anhui Province.

He took up work at a construction site and eventually married a woman introduced to him by his employer. Through the years, Zeng chose to remain as a mute and was only discovered after authorities began taking surveys of households in his village.

The police found it suspicious that he did not have any official paperwork and decided to conduct a DNA test instead. The results were a direct match to the uncle's killer.

According to Global Times, Zeng's choice to stop talking for years has caused his vocal chords to atrophy. "The less I say, the less chance I'll make a mistake," he wrote in response to being interrogated as to why he stayed silent for so long.

The suspect could regain the ability to talk with physical therapy but is unlikely to receive a government-sponsored treatment if found guilty.