New Zealand police yesterday found the body of a young Asian woman in a car outside the home of a three-year old toddler, who was abandoned at a train station in Australia.
But police in New Zealand, Australia and the United States are still hunting for the girl's father, who they believe caught a flight to Los Angeles after abandoning toddler Qian Xun Xue, nicknamed "Pumpkin", in the Australian city of Melbourne.
Police stopped short of naming the dead woman as Anan Liu, the 27-year old missing mother of the girl, but said they had informed the woman's mother in China of the find and said they were treating the death as a homicide.
The body was found in the boot of a car parked outside the Auckland house Qian Xun Xue lived with her mother Anan Liu and father, 54 year-old magazine publisher Nai Zin Xue.
"We would very much like to speak with Mr Xue, the registered owner of the vehicle who we believe is in the United States," Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Scott told reporters.
The case has attracted widespread media attention in Australia and New Zealand after images of Qian Xun Xue left alone at a train station on Saturday were aired on television.
Earlier, police said that Nai Zin Xue was the subject of a court order last year due to violent attacks on his wife, and that a large ceremonial sword had been taken from him, which he claimed back the day before he left New Zealand for Melbourne.
Anan Liu was reported to have fled to China to escape him but later returned to Auckland.
Anan Liu, originally from Changsha, Hunan Province, is believed to have met her husband when she moved to New Zealand to study 5 years ago.
A women's refuge said Anan Liu spent a month with them last year after she left her husband, they also provided her with legal help to get a protection order against him, but the couple later revived their relationship.
"She disclosed that she had been in a violent situation with him before and that it wasn't the first time he had physically beaten her badly," refuge co-ordinator Shila Nair told Radio New Zealand.
New Zealand police have revealed that they had several conversations with Nai Zin Xue and Anan Liu last year about numerous reported domestic violence incidents.
Police also said a woman claiming to be Xue's other daughter from his first marriage, who had been missing since 2000, had called them and given information about the type of man her father was.
Xue appeared in a television documentary last year pleading with his elder daughter to return home.
Anan Liu's mother Liu Xiaoping, who still lives in China, issued a plea for news of her missing daughter on Chinese-New Zealand website Skykiwi.com late on Tuesday.
Liu Xiaoping told the website's editors she had not been in contact with her daughter since September 10.
She added that she had spoken to Nai Zin Xue on Thursday last week, and that he had told her Anan had gone to Wellington for a church activity, leaving her cellphone in the car, so it was impossible to contact her.
Mrs Liu said the couple's relationship had been unstable for some time, and Anan had taken Qian Xun Xue to Wellington for two months in June without telling her husband.
Nai Zin Xue, who claimed to be a shadow boxing master, immigrated to New Zealand 12 years ago, settling in Auckland in 2002. As well as teaching shadow boxing he published a Chinese magazine.
Neighbour Charlie Rata descirbed the Xues as good neighbors, saying they didn't make a lot of noise, but added that Nai Zin Xue was "a bit of an odd one".
"He used to walk around during the daytime in his underwear with a singlet on," Rata said.
Australian police said Nai Zin Xue was deep in debt and had been suffering from depression. The publisher of New Zealand's Chinese language Chinese Times agreed, saying Nai Zin Xue, who he knew, was "not a happy man".
"He feels a loss of interest in business and family, very depressed. It could be that he feels no hope, that the family is not very happy," said the Times publisher.
New Zealand lawmaker Pansy Wong, who also knew the family, said Liu Xiaoping wants to come from China to look after her granddaughter, currently in foster care in Melbourne.
"First of all she wants to unite with Qian Xun and also wants to be really in the midst of knowing what is happening of finding her missing daughter," Wong told Radio New Zealand.
Christina Asquiri, from New Zealand's Department of Human Services, said the girl found Saturday night difficult but was now settling into foster care.
Source: Agencies - China Daily