The skeleton of an 18-year-old girl was stolen from her grave at a remote village in Weichang Manchu and Mongol Autonomous County in Hebei Province, China. Police believe the remains were taken out as part of a “ghost marriage” or “corpse bride” tradition, common in the country.

The skeleton was found missing Friday by the members of the deceased’s family, who then reported the same to police. The unnamed teen was buried in 2001, following her suicide after she entered into an argument with someone.

“On January 4, I went to the grave and saw a hole in the middle. The big bones were gone. Only a few scattered small bones were left. We came here last fall, it was still good, and the stolen bones must have happened recently,” the deceased’s sister said, local newspaper Sohu reported.

She added: “Someone has stolen my sister's body and robbed her from her grave. Last year, some people said they wanted my the remains of my sister to ‘marry’ into another family. Our family refused. We would never trade my sister for money.”

The family further stated that a pair of white gloves were recovered from the gravesite that was dug up, which the police suspect to belong to the person who stole the corpse.

A footage released from the incident showed the parents of the deceased crying in front of their daughter’s empty grave. The deceased’s sister added that her parents have been unable to eat properly, since they discovered that the remains of their child had gone missing.

According to the family, some villagers had approached them in 2017 to urge them to sell the unmarried teen’s skeleton, which could then partake a ritual of “ghost marriage.” Since the family did not feel comfortable in doing so, they rejected the offer. After her skeleton was reported stolen by the family on Jan. 5, the police became convinced that grave snatchers had indeed sold the skeleton as a “ghost bride” to the family of a deceased man to carry out an ancient tradition.

“This is just so disrespectful,” a relative of the family said, Mail Online reported.

“Wedding of the deceased” or “ghost marriage” is an ancient Chinese tradition that goes back thousands of years in history and invloves corpses of two deceased unmarried individuals. A marriage ceremony would be performed with the skeletons and they would be buried back, side by side with the belief that they would live as a couple in the afterlife. The tradition revolves around the superstition that a man who dies before getting married brings bad luck to his family and invites evil spirits to haunt his house.

Although the ritual has become less common nowadays in the country, there have been instances in the past decade of people stealing corpses from graves to carry out the ritual. In 2015, three men in Ruicheng County, China, stole a female skeleton from a grave and sold it for 25,000 yuan ($3,660). They were arrested.