Man Charged in Death of Chinese Student Killed in Front of Webcam

Man Charged in Death of Chinese Student Killed in Front of Webcam
— A dishelved man appeared in court Thursday on charges of murdering a Chinese woman whose scuffle with her assailant was seen on webcam by her helpless boyfriend in China. But police were not releasing any details about the crime nor its motive.
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 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. See the 25 crimes of the century.
Brian Dickson, 29, stood before the court in a very wrinkled white shirt and blue jeans as a charge of first-degree murder was read out. He did not enter a plea. His case was held over until April 26. The justice of the peace imposed a publication ban on nearly all other details.
Police released no motive or details about Dickson, but one friend described him as an aspiring actor as the man made a brief court appearance Thursday.
Police on Wednesday arrested Dickson, of Toronto, and charged him with first-degree murder.
Police only announced his name and his age and asked the media not to publish any photos of Dickson, saying it could compromise the investigation. Toronto police spokesman Tony Vella declined to elaborate on the request further.
Dickson is not a student at York, university spokeswoman Janice Wells said. She declined to say if he was a former student, only that he does not have a degree from the school.
Patricia Tomasi, a Facebook friend of Dickson’s, told The Associated Press that she acted in a play at a local theater in Toronto with Dickson in 2007. “He doesn’t seem like the type but that’s what they always say,” Tomasi said of the allegations. “He’s tall with boyish good looks. I don’t know much about him except that he wanted to be an actor.”
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.
See TIME’s Pictures of the Week.