The identity of a woman who died under suspicious circumstances was made public Monday as Toronto police continued to search for a man seen via webcam in the woman's basement apartment.

Qian Liu, 23, from Beijing, China, was found dead on Friday inside a basement apartment at 27 Aldwinckle Hts., near Keele Street and Finch Avenue, near York University.

Homicide detectives say the woman was having an online web-cam conversation with a friend overseas when someone knocked at her apartment door at approximately 1 a.m. on Friday.

Police are calling the friend an "online witness" to a concerning series of events. He reportedly saw the woman open her door to a man who then asked to borrow her phone, before physically assaulting her. The man then turned off the woman's laptop computer.

Investigators are currently searching for the missing laptop, an IBM ThinkPad T400.

Police say the woman was discovered late Friday morning unclothed from the waist down.

"It was obvious that she had been dead for some period of time," Det.-Sgt. Frank Skubic said on Sunday.

However, Skubic said there were no obvious signs of sexual assault or trauma and further studies including a toxicology report are needed before police can determine the cause of the woman's death.

Skubic said the woman's family is currently making plans to come to Canada.

Mamdouh Shoukri, president and vice-chancellor of York University, expressed his condolences on Monday, describing Liu as an impressive member of the school.

"Qian's death is a terrible tragedy and our entire community mourns the loss of a promising young student. Our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy go out of her family, friends and classmates," a statement reads.

One of Liu's roommates said she had been chatting with her boyfriend in China before the incident. Friends believe the man that entered her room is someone who has been pursuing her romantically.

Other tenants of Liu's house had little to say about her murder on Monday.

"It's like different people living in the house, so we don't really know each other personally," said one tenant.

Other students living in the area are also trying to cope with Liu's death.

"I think it's really scary because I'm a girl and I live right in the general area where somebody was possibly killed," said one neighbour.

Another resident told reporters, "I'm telling my colleagues that they have to make sure they lock the door and shouldn't open any doors to any strangers."

Police continue to search for the man seen in the apartment, calling him a "person of interest."

Police describe the man as:

  • Male
  • White
  • 20-30 years old
  • 6 ft. tall
  • 175-200 lbs
  • Muscular build
  • Medium-length brown hair that was messy at the front and well groomed in the back.
  • Last seen wearing a blue crewneck T-shirt

Police are asking other residents in the multi-unit building to help them in their investigation.

If anyone has any information they are asked to call Det. Seg. Frank Skubic at 416−808−7399, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave a tip onFacebook.

With files from CTV's Tamara Cherry