Victim of ‘brutal’ Scarborough murder was mother of three

Li-Yuan Liu was stabbed multiple times in the neck and left to die in her dry-cleaning shop Monday.

Woman was stabbed multiple times in the neck

Known to her friends as Rose, Li-Yuan Liu was working at her dry-cleaning store Monday, as she had almost every day for the last 13 years, when around midday the 61-year-old mother of three was stabbed several times in the neck and left to die in a pool of blood.  Police are still searching for a suspect and a motive in the killing — the city’s 15th homicide of 2010 — which the detective investigating the case described as “particularly brutal.”

Liu’s body was found in her store around 12:45 p.m. “covered in blood,” said Det. Scott Whittemore.  On Tuesday, police released surveillance video footage of a “person of interest” — a woman they say was near Liu’s store at the time of the murder.  Police describe the woman as “non-white,” 25 to 35 years old, with dark hair pulled back into a bun or ponytail. The woman — whose ethnicity is unclear from security camera footage — appears to have a fair complexion. In the footage she is wearing a long, dark overcoat and dark shoes.

Whittemore said as police continue to investigate, the woman could become a suspect.

There is some suspicion the killing could be the result of a botched robbery, but Whittemore said police have found no evidence of that yet. They have not determined whether anything was stolen from the store, he said, because forensic investigators are still working at the scene. Police are also still looking for the murder weapon.  Other stores in the plaza have been victimized by robberies before, and Whittemore said he and his partner have talked to robbery investigators. “But at this point we don’t have any linkages to a rash of robberies in the area.”

Whittemore said police do not believe Liu’s family was involved in the killing, adding that they are “obviously devastated.” Liu was the mother of three adult children.  The owner and operator of Top “A” Cleaners had run her dry-cleaning store since 1997, and was well-known among other shopkeepers at the plaza at 3430 Finch Ave. E., near Warden. She was described by other store owners as kind, friendly and gracious with her time.

“She was a good lady, with a good heart. She helped everybody around here,” said the owner of Lucky Grass Chinese Herbs, who refused to give his name.  On Tuesday, forensic investigators continued to comb the scene and detectives pored over surveillance footage from several video cameras in the area.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call 42 Division at 416-808-4200 or the homicide squad directly at 416-808-7400.

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