TORONTO >> A man accused of murdering a Chinese student was scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday, just under a week since the victim’s boyfriend watched helplessly through a webcam as she struggled with an attacker.
The body of York University student Liu Qian, 23, of Beijing, was found Friday in her apartment in Toronto a few hours after her boyfriend in China witnessed the attack, police said. She was naked from the waist down and there were no obvious signs of sexual assault or trauma severe enough to kill her. The autopsy was inconclusive.
Police on Wednesday arrested Brian Dickson, 29, of Toronto, and charged him with first-degree murder.
Police did not release any more details but asked the media not to publish any photos of Dickson, saying it could compromise the investigation.
Dickson is not a student at York, university spokeswoman Janice Wells said.
Liu was chatting with her boyfriend, Meng Xianchao, by webcam at about 1 a.m. Friday when a man knocked on the door, police said.
Meng reported seeing a struggle break out between the two before Liu’s webcam was shut off. Meng contacted other friends in Toronto who in turn called police.
The victim’s father, Liu Jianhui, said his daughter studied at Beijing City University before moving to Canada, where she met Meng. Liu Jianhui arrived Wednesday from China. He is the research director of Communist Party history at the Party School of the Central Committee of CPC, which trains party officials.
York University President Mamdouh Shoukri said the community is relieved that police have arrested a suspect.
"Qian Liu’s death has had a profound impact on all of us at York. We appreciate the dedicated effort of Toronto Police Service and we are pleased that they have apprehended a suspect," Shoukri said in a statement.
Liu Qian’s laptop computer, webcam and mobile phone were taken from the apartment the night of the attack, police said. Police said the online chat was on a live streaming camera and was not recorded, though investigators were trying to figure out if there was any way they could recover it.
In the past there have been sex attacks in and around York’s campus, which is near one of Toronto’s rougher neighborhoods.