Webcam killing suspect also attended York University

A 29-year-old Toronto man charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of 23-year-old York University student Qian Liu is an amateur actor who also attended York.

Brian Dickson was remanded in custody until April 26 during a brief court appearance Thursday morning.

Dickson, wearing a white shirt and showing no emotion, stood and spoke only to give his name during the two-minute appearance.

A publication ban was imposed on court proceedings.

His Facebook page reveals a square-jawed, clean-cut young man with geopolitical interests and active hobbies.

A graduate of Riverdale Collegiate in Toronto, Dickson studied geopolitics at York University’s McLaughlin College. He co-founded the York model NATO club, was president of York’s undergraduate Political Science Council and served on their model U.N.

Dickson worked for the Atlantic Council of Canada, a NATO-affiliated foreign policy think tank, from 2008 to 2009. He was an assistant to president Julie Lindhout.

He was involved with Developments in Literacy, which establishes and operated school for disadvantaged children, particularly girls, in Pakistan.

A running instructor and amateur actor, his Facebook page still lists him as a member of The Players Academy.

The courtroom was crowded, with some of the nearly 50 journalists in attendance ordered out by Justice of the Peace William Danbrook before this morning’s hearing began. The story has captured international attention because part of an altercation with the victim was seen via webcam by her boyfriend in Beijing.

Police had announced Dickson’s arrest as a plane carrying Liu’s grieving parents touched down Wednesday afternoon.

The exhausted couple was ushered through Pearson airport by Chinese consulate staff, stopping momentarily to address reporters before being ushered out a private exit.

“We are very sad but we would like to take this opportunity to thank . . . everyone, the media, community and Chinese consulate staff,” Jianhui Liu, the victim’s father, said after the 13-hour flight from Beijing. “Thank you, but we are really tired.”

He is research director of Communist Party history at a school that trains party officials and a much-admired lecturer.

His daughter’s body was discovered by two friends and her landlord at 27 Aldwinckle Heights on Friday morning, after they were alerted by Meng Xianchao, the victim’s boyfriend in China, who said he witnessed part of the struggle between the woman and an intruder by webcam the night before.

Liu was found in a basement apartment naked from the waist down, police said, adding there were no obvious signs of trauma.

Police are still awaiting toxicology test results to determine the cause of death.

This week, the Star reported that Liu had been stalked by a man, painted as a rejected suitor in a popular Chinese chatroom. However, police said there is no evidence of “criminal stalking.”

Liu arrived in Canada in September and lived in a house on Haynes Ave. before moving to the Aldwinckle Heights apartment in January.

The victim’s boyfriend in China told CTV News in Beijing of watching a man try to hug Liu before assaulting her.

He said his webcam conversation with his girlfriend was interrupted when Liu heard a knock at the door at about 1 a.m. Friday. A man entered the apartment and wanted an embrace, but grew aggressive when Liu refused. The webcam was then disconnected.

“At that moment my mind went blank and I was cursing him from my webcam, I was so far away I couldn’t reach her. I felt so helpless and I couldn’t calm down until in the end the guy closed the computer,” he told CTV, adding he then contacted Liu’s friends in Canada.

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