Update: Police say body found in car is Tong Shao - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Update: Police say body found in car is Tong Shao

Posted: Updated:
Person of Interest Person of Interest
Police talk to individuals in Dolphin Lake Point in Iowa City. Police talk to individuals in Dolphin Lake Point in Iowa City.
IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Iowa City Police say a body found in a car trunk has been identified as that of missing ISU international student Tong Shao.

The cause of Shao's death is not being released by police.

Police say Xiangnan Li, 23, a Chinese international student at the University of Iowa and apparently Shao's boyfriend, is considered a person of interest in the case. Police believe Li is now back in China.

Li is a business major at UI, but according to his Facebook profile he lives in Rochester New York and attends Rochester Institute of Technology and plans to graduate in 2015.

However, police tell us he lives in the apartment complex where Shao's  car and body was found, and is considered an associate of hers.

Iowa City Area CrimeStoppers is offering a reward of up to $1000 for information leading to the arrest of this suspect. Anyone with information about this crime is urged to contact CrimeStoppers at 358-TIPS (8477) or online atwww.iccrimestoppers.org. All calls are held in strict confidence and anonymity is guaranteed. Individuals providing information do not have to reveal their identity to collect a reward.

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Iowa City Police say an autopsy has been scheduled with the Johnson County Medical Examiner's Office for a body found in the trunk of a car Friday night.

Police believe the car is associated with Tong Shao, 20, who has been missing for nearly 20 days.

Shao is an international student studying chemical engineering at Iowa State University. 

"That car was stinking, but we didn't know if it was the car because we thought it was the garbage in the area," said Cleaster Taylor, who lives near the crime scene. "I didn't think nothing of it, because you don't think that a gruesome discovery like that you're like what the heck."

Lt. Mike Brotherton said the preliminary autopsy is scheduled for Saturday, but said it could be some time before results come in. Brotherton says a friend or acquaintance of Shao is considered a person of interest in the case, but they believe that person is in China.

He would not say if the person is a resident of Iowa City.

"We can't really talk about that at this point," said Brotherton.

According to Iowa City Police, officers located the vehicle around 6:30 p.m. Friday. It was found parked near 2401 Highway 6 East in Iowa City with a Kentucky license plate.

During the investigation, a body was found in the trunk of the 1997 Toyota Camry.

"The fact that she's been missing for so long we understood that there probably wasn't going to be a positive outcome at this point," said Brotherton.

However, Iowa City Police Saturday morning would not confirm either the identity or gender of the body found.

Police say circumstances are suspicious, and it's being treated as a homicide investigation.KWWL noticed several investigators and the Johnson County Medical Examiner's Office at Dolphin Lake Point Housing Complex Friday night for more than four hours gathering evidence surrounding Shao's disappearance.  

Lt. Brotherton says the police department hasn't had a suspicious death investigation in quite some time.

"Certainly I can't remember when the last one," said Brotherton. "It's fortunate we don't have a lot of these, but certainly we're going to give it a full investigation to find out what happened."

Multiple entities are assisting in the investigation: the Ames Police Department, Iowa State Patrol, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Johnson County Medical Examiner's Office, the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, the Coralville Police Department, the University of Iowa Police Department and also the Johnson County Attorney.

Police say there is no danger to the public at this time. Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Tong Shao is urged to contact authorities. Iowa City Area CrimeStoppers is offering up to a $1,000 cash reward for information leading to arrests. Anyone with information is urged to contact CrimeStoppers at 358-TIPS (8477).

Stay with KWWL for further updates.

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Previous Story:

Iowa City Police confirm they have found a body in the trunk of a car sought in connection with a missing Iowa State student and are calling it a "very suspicious death investigation."

KWWL's Justin Andrews was on the scene late Friday night at Dolphin Lake Point in Iowa City, where police had been investigating but saying very little since 6 p.m. Friday.

Just after midnight, police brought out a gurney and removed a body from the trunk of a car. That car had been sought in the case of Tong Shao, a missing international student at Iowa State University who had last been seen Sept. 6.

Police would not confirm the identity of the body but told KWWL it had been in the trunk of the car for a while.

Shao had last texted friends Sept. 8, saying she would be in Iowa City.

Read more here: http://www.kwwl.com/story/26639364/2014/09/26/missing-isu-student-tong-shao-could-still-be-in-iowa-city

KWWL'S Ally Crutcher and Amie Steffeneicher contributed to this report.

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