Gao Chengyong, 52, was detained at the grocery store he runs with his wife in Baiyin, in the northwest province of Gansu, Chinese media reported.
China's Ministry of Public Security says after his arrest Gao had confessed to 11 murders in Gansu and the neighbouring region of Inner Mongolia between 1988 and 2002.
Gao allegedly targeted young women wearing red and followed them home to rape and kill them, often cutting their throat and mutilating their bodies, according to reports.
The youngest victim was eight years old.
Some victims also had their reproductive organs removed.
"The suspect has a sexual perversion and hates women," police said in 2004, when they linked the crimes for the first time and offered a reward of 200,000 yuan (around $40,000) for information leading to an arrest.
"He's reclusive and unsociable, but patient," they said at the time.
The original Jack the Ripper was a serial killer active in east London in the late Victorian era, who is widely believed to have murdered five women, mutilating several of them.
Those killings have never been solved.
Gao was identified after a relative was put under house arrest in Baiyin over allegations of a minor crime and had his DNA collected and tested, the China Daily said.
Police concluded the killer they had been hunting for 28 years was a relation, and Gao's DNA was a match, it added.
There were no immediate explanations as to why the killings stopped in 2002.
Miscarriages of justice are not rare in China, where the use of force to extract confessions remains widespread.
In several high-profile cases in recent years, China has exonerated wrongfully executed or jailed convicts after others came forward to confess their crimes, or in some cases because the supposed murder victim was later found alive.
None of the reports said whether anyone had previously been convicted in connection with Gao's alleged crimes.