New Zealand

Police searching new areas for Yanfei Bao

Police investigating the suspected murder of missing real estate agent Yanfei Bao are searching new areas in relation to her disappearance.

Bao was last seen alive on July 19, when she arrived at a house for sale on Trevor St, Hornby, set to show a potential buyer through it.

A week later, her disappearance was upgraded to a homicide investigation.

Last week her alleged murderer, Tinjun Cao, was named after he did not apply to continue his interim name suppression.

On Wednesday, a police spokeswoman said staff were now searching in new areas.

The areas include Waterholes Rd and Robinsons Rd, Rolleston and Spalling Rd and Te Kuru Wetland, Halswell.

“Staff will not be searching the Greenpark area today but future activity is being considered in that area.”

Cao appeared in the High Court at Christchurch on Friday via audio-visual link before Justice Cameron Mander. Cao’s lawyer said he no longer sought interim name suppression.

A tentative trial date has been set for October 21, 2024 for four weeks.

The New Zealand Herald earlier revealed the 52-year-old Bryndwr man had only been living in New Zealand for several months.

Cao was remanded in custody to appear again on November 10.

At his previous appearance, he pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder. He pleaded not guilty to kidnapping at his first court appearance. The not guilty pleas were confirmed on Friday.

Police have appeared to focus their efforts on the Halswell River and Greenpark area using search experts over ground, water, and in the sky.

Police reveal search for tracksuit, spade

Police investigating Bao’s disappearance earlier appealed for information from the public in relation to a tracksuit, top, and spade.

“Police believe the items have been discarded in the Christchurch area sometime from approximately midday on Wednesday, July 19, to about 5pm Saturday, July 22,” Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves said.

“The spade is brand new.

“Anyone that saw someone acting in an unusual manner or can assist police in locating the whereabouts of the tracksuit, the top, and spade, is asked to please to contact police.”

Reeves said police were “committed” to locating Bao and returning her to her family.

Police said more than 280 pieces of information have been provided.

“There’s brilliant information from the public.”

The officer in charge of the search for Operation Helo, Detective Brent Menzies, earlier told the Herald a “significant amount of time and resource” has been put into the search and there was no plan to pull back.

“Everyone recognises the importance and everyone is sticking their hands up to help.

“At the end of the day, we just want some answers and something to give back to Yanfei’s family so they can have some closure.”

Bao’s family earlier issued a statement thanking family, friends, and the general public for the “outpouring of kind words and unwavering support following the disappearance of their beloved wife and mother.

“The love and compassion displayed by fellow New Zealanders has been truly humbling, and the Bao family cannot express how grateful they are for all the generous donations made through Givealittle.”

The family also expressed their “sincere appreciation” to the police for their “invaluable support and relentless dedication” in the search for Bao.

“The family urges anyone with information that could assist the police in locating Yanfei to come forward as soon as possible.

“Their only desire is to have her returned to them, so they can find closure and begin the grieving process.”

The family also encouraged everyone to cherish their loved ones and express their feelings openly.

“Go home tonight and tell all those you hold dear that you love and cherish them,” Bao’s husband Paul Gooch said.

Reeves earlier said staff were “dedicated” to piecing together the circumstances of the investigation.

Police remained interested in any information relating to sightings of a silver Mitsubishi sedan with the registration DPH101, particularly on July 20, the day after Bao was reported missing.

Bao was last seen about 10am on Trevor St in Hornby, where she was due to show a potential buyer through a home.

Anyone who saw Bao’s silver Nissan Dualis after 12.30pm and before 10.45pm on the day she disappeared is urged to contact police, she said. The car was seen on CCTV footage in Hornby’s Trevor St, where police forensic scene experts have been examining a house.

Anyone who had seen Yanfei Bao, or had any information about where she could be, is urged to call 111 immediately and quote event number P055385539.

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