Qian Liu was murdered as she was speaking to her boyfriend in China on a webcam
A university student killed in front of her own webcam while her helpless boyfriend looked on was being stalked by a spurned lover, according to friends.
Officers found the semi-naked body of Qian Liu in her Toronto apartment after receiving a tip-off from her boyfriend who had been chatting with her online 6,600 miles away in China at the time of the attack.
A police manhunt is continuing for a person seen on her boyfriend's webcam struggling with the "hardworking" 23-year-old student before she died.
But the mystery over what killed Miss Liu deepened today after a police autopsy failed to show a cause of death, intensifying speculation she may have been given some form of "lethal injection".
Detectives had revealed Miss Liu was "unclothed from the waist down" but that there was no trauma to the body or signs of sexual abuse.
Although police are unwilling to comment on reports that Miss Liu was given some form of injection they have admitted toxicology tests continue to be carried out.
Miss Liu's boyfriend said he was talking to the English Language Institute student at about 1am Friday morning when there was a knock at the door.
"She opened the door to a male. She could have known the male but he was unknown to the online witness," Toronto Police Det–Sgt Frank Skubic said.
Speaking from Beijing, the witness then told police he watched through the webcam lens as the muscular man with medium-length brown hair asked the victim to use her mobile phone.
He then watched as a violent struggle developed between Liu and the man, although some of the fight also took place out of the camera's range.
The suspect - described as white, in his 20s, 6ft tall and about 200lbs - then turned off the IBM ThinkPad T400 laptop, which is now missing.
Killed: One of Qian Liu's roommates held up his laptop to show reporters this picture of the 23-year-old, who was attacked in her dorm room
York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri said the university's 'deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy go out to Liu's family, friends and classmates'
The victim's stunned boyfriend quickly used social media to contact others who knew the woman in Toronto and China but police didn't arrive at her apartment until around 10 hours later.
"The online witness became concerned and contacted several people known to the deceased here in Canada, and appealed to them to go and track down her welfare', Det–Sgt Skubic added.
"It was as a result of somebody responding to that plea by the online witness that she was discovered."
Miss Liu was one of eight people who lived in the multi-unit house and had only moved in January of this year.
Grief: One of the student's room-mates showed reporters a picture of her on his laptop before police confiscated it
The student was talking to her boyfriend in Beijing via webcam when she was killed. He then tried to contact people he knew in Toronto
One of the woman's friends said the man who entered her room had been pursuing her romantically.
"The suspect once shared the same house with Liu", the friend said.
"He was chasing after her, but she refused, then he started stalking her by texting her all the time", the man, who was interviewed by police for 12 hours, wrote in an online chatroom.
The same friend said he was on the scene when the landlord opened the door Friday morning, finding Liu's body on the floor with one arm extended toward the door.
"It felt like the sky had collapsed", he wrote. "I called 911 but I couldn't spit out one single word".
Murder scene: Liu, 23, was found dead on Friday inside a basement apartment in York University Village in Toronto
In what is Canada's first murder witnessed on the internet police have issued an urgent appeal for computer experts to help recover images of the killing at York University Village.
Officers said the attack "wasn't being recorded by any third-party software" but they believe the missing computer could still reveal the student's final moments.
Police also revealed today that Miss Liu's laptop did not have a built-in camera and that they believe an external webcam is also missing.
A mobile phone, recovered at the scene, is undergoing forensic examination, but Miss Liu's personal mobile phone is believed to be missing.
Lost time: Police took 10 hours to arrive at the crime scene, but had not been notified until Friday morning
"We'd really like to find her laptop", Const Tony Vella from Toronto Police said. He added the webcam investigation was 'definitely a first' and that Miss Liu knew the suspect but the long-distance witness does not.
'It looks targeted, but we'll still look into all possibilities at this point and it's important to keep an open mind in this case', Const Vella said.
Asked why it took over 10 hours for police to arrive at the crime scene, Const Vella explained that police were not notified until Friday morning.
"Someone had gone to (her) address because they were concerned for her well-being and they went into the apartment and they found her there and they were concerned so they contacted police", he said.
"We responded on the Friday at 11am and that's when we were first made aware of the situation".
A team from the Chinese consulate arrived soon after the police after receiving an urgent phone call from the victim's distraught mother in China.
"The family said (the mother) got the news maybe the daughter is in danger", Consulate spokesman Huang Xihua said.
"They don't know whether she died, just that she's in danger".
York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri said the university's "deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy went go out to Liu's family, friends and classmates".
"Qian's death is a terrible tragedy and our entire community mourns the loss of a promising young student", he said.
The community is still recovering from a separate attack where a young woman was beaten in a university bathroom in what was described as a homophobic assault.
University spokeswoman Susan Webb said she was concerned about the proximity of the attack to the campus: "We're doing everything possible to make this a safe environment. It can be a challenge when we don't have any authority off campus".
Although the crime is believed to be Canada's first murder caught on a webcam a woman from Lebanon, Pennsylvania was shot dead while chatting online in 2009.
A friend on the video call saw Meleanie Hain's husband firing a gun and police later found both Hain and her husband dead in their home.
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