Student Qian Liu Killed in Canada as Friend in China Watches on Webcam
A Chinese woman studying in Canada was fatally attacked in her Toronto apartment as her friend watched helplessly from a webcam in China.
Qian Liu, 23, was found dead Friday morning in an apartment near York University, where she was enrolled in an English-language program.
Liu, who was originally from Beijing, was chatting online with a man her friends have identified as her boyfriend in the early hours of Friday morning when she answered a knock on the door and was attacked, police said. The Chinese man with whom she had been chatting told police he watched in horror as Liu battled her attacker in front of the webcam, until the attacker closed the computer and the witness' screen went ominously black.
Thousands of miles away, in China, the friend sent panicked emails begging family members and friends to rush to her aid. Liu's worried mother called the Chinese Consulate, according to CBC, and asked authorities to find her daughter.
But in Toronto, people were fast asleep, and the emails went unread until Friday morning. When the landlord opened the door to Liu's apartment mid-morning Friday, it was too late. Liu's lifeless body was discovered naked from the waist down, police said in a statement. They also said there were no immediate signs that she had been sexually assaulted, but they are waiting for lab results in the case. No cause of death has been determined.
"She opened the door to a male. She could have known the male, but he was unknown to the online witness," Toronto Police Detective Frank Skubic told London's Daily Mail. According to the paper, one of Liu's roommates told reporters Liu had been stalked by a man whose romantic advances she had spurned.
The Toronto Star reports that people identifying themselves as Liu's friends have said in Chinese-language online chat rooms that she was being stalked.
Police have not commented on whether Liu had a stalker, but said in a statement that the man described to them by the webcam witness was white, between 20 and 30 and about 6 feet tall. They told Toronto's National Post it was unclear whether Liu knew her attacker.
York University president Mamdouh Shoukri released a statement on its website that called the death a "terrible tragedy" and asked students to contact police if they have any information about the crime.
"Qian's death is a terrible tragedy, and our entire community mourns the loss of a promising young student," Shoukri wrote. "Our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy go out to her family, friends and classmates."