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Homicide inquiry into Canadian woman's death
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Shanghai police are investigating the murder of a 23-year-old Canadian woman in a residential complex in the city's Changning District.


The Shanghai Public Security Bureau said yesterday its 110 Command Center received a call about 5:30am on Monday saying that the woman was dead in her apartment in Jinseng Plaza at 490 Zhaohua Road.

The woman, who was only identified as Diana in a statement the bureau released on its Website yesterday, arrived in China on June 24.

Shanghai police did not release any further details of the case.

According to Canadian media outlets, the victim is Diana Gabrielle O'Brien, a model from Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.

Sumeeta Chandavarkar, consul for public affairs at the Canadian Consulate General's office in the city, told Shanghai Daily yesterday that local police informed them of the woman's death on Monday.

She said the consulate was in regular contact with police and was providing assistance and support to the victim's family.

Canadian media reports claimed the victim's room-mate and fellow model, Charlotte Wood, found O'Brien's body. They both worked for Canada-based Barbara Coultish Model Management.

O'Brien began modeling in Canada more than a year ago and a stint in Milan was her first big break. She came to Shanghai this summer after three months of modeling in Italy, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In Shanghai, she was also working for Jh Model Agency.

Jh Model Agency is a Taiwan-funded firm which cooperates with agencies in Europe to bring foreign models to Asia, according to its promotional material. However, its Website has been offline since Tuesday night.

O'Brien told friends that she did legitimate modeling assignments but was also asked to dance in bars as "promotional work."

She told them she didn't like working in Shanghai and had bought an airline ticket to return to Canada in two weeks, the CBC said.

But her boyfriend said O'Brien told him she always felt safe and never went anywhere alone, according to a report in Victoria Times Colonist, a British Colombia newspaper.

"We are just waiting for answers at this time," Joel Berry was quoted as saying. "It's very difficult. She wasn't into drugs or alcohol or anything like that, so you can't think it was anything except foul play."

When a Shanghai Daily reporter visited Jh's office in Xuhui District yesterday it was closed. Phone calls to Jh also went unanswered.

Neighbors near Jh's office said they had no idea the small room housed a modeling agency.

(Shanghai Daily July 10, 2008)

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