Sun, Mar 17, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Woman’s head found in Chiayi temple restroom

GRISLY DISCOVERY:The police were alerted to the head by a letter. The head appears to be that of a missing woman with a history of mental illness

By Wu Shih-tsung, Huang Chi-hao and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer and CNA

A special police unit is investigating a grisly murder involving the decapitation of a woman whose head was discovered on Friday afternoon at a public restroom in Chiayi County.

At about 4pm on Friday, Datong Police Precinct in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sanchong District (三重) received an anonymous letter from a Taoyuan address saying that a decapitated head had been placed in a public washroom 200m from the Chiayi County Farmers’ Cooperative Association.

The letter asked “the kind-hearted police officers to help out and take care of the corpse.”

Alerted to the letter, Chiayi police conducted a search in the vicinity mentioned and at about 5:30pm discovered a head, wrapped in clothing and layers of plastic bags, placed atop a cistern in the men’s lavatory at Shangtian Temple (璿宿上天宮) in Shueishang Township (水上).

The victim’s body was not found at the site, and police said the decapitated head was sprinkled with salt, probably to slow its decomposition.

The head had been severed with a sharp, clean cut, the police said, adding that the eyes were sunken and showed signs of dehydration.

Alongside it was a piece of paper with the name “Chen Wan-ting” (陳婉婷) written on it.

Upon the discovery of the severed head, local residents became jittery and concerned about their safety, and speculated about the bizarre nature of the crime.

Police have formed a special investigation unit to verify the identity of the victim through DNA tests, find the rest of the body and investigate the crime.

The Sanchong police yesterday said a woman named Chen Wan-ting had been reported missing within its jurisdiction.

The mother of the missing woman was taken to Chiayi yesterday to help identify the remains.

The mother, surnamed Chiu (邱), said the head bore some resemblance to her daughter and that the clothing wrapped around the head was similar to items she had bought for her missing daughter some time ago, although she could not make a positive identification due to the head’s partial decomposition and dehydrated state, police said.

The police have taken DNA samples from the mother to compare with the victim’s DNA.

Police said Chiu’s daughter had a history of mental illness.

As for the anonymous letter, the Taoyuan address written on it was found to be non-existent, police said.

The New Taipei City Police Department’s forensic science center is taking fingerprint samples and other clues from the letter, police said, adding that authorities are also examining video from surveillance cameras around possible letterboxes and post offices to identify the sender.

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