Man charged with murder after attack seen on webcam
A dishevelled man appeared in court yesterday charged with murdering a Chinese woman whose struggle was seen on webcam by her helpless boyfriend back home thousands of miles away.
However, police refused to divulge further details about the killing that has grabbed international attention.
Brian Dickson (29) is accused of killing 23-year-old York University, Toronto, Canada, student Liu Qian of Beijing. Mr Dickson 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 only announced his name and his age and asked the media not to publish any photos of Dickson, saying it could compromise the investigation.
Ms Liu's body was found last 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 post-mortem was inconclusive.
Mr Dickson was arrested on Wednesday. Police released no motive or details about Dickson, but one friend described the Toronto man as an aspiring actor.
Patricia Tomasi, a Facebook friend of Mr Dickson's, said that she acted in a play at a local theatre in Toronto with Mr Dickson in 2007.
"He doesn't seem like the type but that's what they always say," Ms Tomasi said of the allegations. "He's tall with boyish good looks. I don't know much about him."
Mr Dickson attended York University where he took global politics. He later worked for the Atlantic Council of Canada, a NATO-affiliated think-tank where he served as an assistant to the president Julie Lindhout.
According to his bio on a newsletter from the Atlantic Council of Canada, Mr Dickson has also been a running instructor and has been involved with Developments in Literacy, a Pakistani aid organisation that raises money for kids.
Ms Liu was chatting with her boyfriend, Meng Xianchao, by webcam at about 1am on Friday when a man knocked on the door, police said. Mr Meng reported seeing a struggle break out between the two before Liu's webcam was shut off. Mr 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. He is the research director of Communist Party history at the Party School of the Central Committee of CPC, which trains party officials.
Liu Qian's laptop computer, webcam and mobile phone were taken from the apartment, police said. Investigators are trying to figure out if there was any way they could recover the webcam footage.