The ribcage and skull of Cissy Chen were discovered in a
drain in the Totaravale Reserve on the North Shore. The
rest of her remains were found nearby. Photo / Richard
When Auckland accountant Cissy Chen disappeared from her
Auckland home 16 months ago, police were certain she had been
They believed her body had been buried in a park or reserve
near her North Shore home, or dumped in a waterway. They were
confident they would find her.
And last night they said that they had - in a waterway in a
reserve near her home in Torbay.
Detective Inspector Bruce Scott said the discovery of Ms
Chen's body was a breakthrough, but an arrest was not
expected immediately. "There is plenty of work still to be
He would not be drawn on suspects or a motive for the
Ms Chen was last seen on November 5, 2012, after leaving the
accountancy firm she worked at. She drove to home, parked her
car and went inside.
Her partner, Yun Liu, known as Jack, reported her missing at
9.30 that night.
He said she had left the house to go walking at 5.30 and had
He usually walked with her, but told police he had injured
his leg so had stayed home. He has remained in contact with
detectives and is understood to have been co-operative.
Initial searches of green areas near Ms Chen's home yielded
no clues. Police appealed for sightings of her and of a white
2002 Nissan Pulsar station wagon that they said was "crucial"
to the investigation.
Soon after Ms Chen disappeared, Mr Scott told the Herald that
the investigation team believed she was killed at or near her
That belief was based on the fact that no trace of Ms Chen
was found, and no sightings were reported when she
disappeared despite the fact it was a busy Guy Fawkes night.
On Monday last week, police got the break they were hoping
for when a contractor mowing the lawns at the Totaravale
Reserve found a ribcage and skull in a drain.
Most of the rest of Ms Chen's remains were found nearby.
Mr Scott said: "The area that Cissy's body has been found in
was well known to both Cissy and her partner. They lived
nearby and used to walk regularly around the neighbourhood.
"We're now working through the information gathered from last
week's scene examination, and an area canvass of residents in
the neighbourhood is also underway."
The site where Ms Chen's remains were found will be blessed
by a local kaumatua this morning.
Cissy Chen's remains were identified using forensic
dentistry, the Herald has learned.
It is understood that most of Ms Chen's skeleton was
recovered from a drain at Totaravale Reserve last week,
including her skull and teeth. When a body is found, police
either use DNA profiling or forensic dentistry to confirm who
the remains belong to.
If the former is used, forensic scientists work to confirm
the identification of remains by their respective DNA
If DNA samples cannot be obtained from remains because of
their age or condition, a forensic dentist is used to
establish the identity.
A forensic dentist will analyse the teeth against dental
records to confirm identity. If no dental records are held,
the job becomes much harder and a profile is created of the
deceased, including information on their race, age and
gender, based on their specific dental structure.
Formal identification of a body can take weeks depending on
what is found and what medical records are available to match
against the remains.
Can you help?
If you have information about the murder of Cissy Chen, or
you lived in the Totaravale Reserve area in November 2012 but
have since moved, police want to speak to you. Contact the
Operation Waiau team on 0800-024-779. Information can also be
provided anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.