The circumstances surrounding the mysterious New Year's death of a 19-year-old woman remained unclear yesterday as the body was found under the Sinhai Bridge in Taipei County after a five-day search by police.
Wang Hsiao-pei, a vocational school student, was reportedly last seen by a friend surnamed Fan when the scooter they were riding broke down on the bridge on the night of New Year's Eve.
Fan, 34, said when the scooter broke down, he and Wang pushed it towards the town center. While he was trying to start the engine, he heard Wang chatting on her cellphone with several of their peers, he said.
"When I turned around, she had disappeared," claimed Fan, adding that he suspects Wang fell into the river through the 70-centimeter gap between the railing and the car lane.
On the night of Wang's disappearance, rescuers were able to recover only a helmet that apparently belonged to Wang.
As part of a local tradition, Wang's family held a "spirit call" ritual near the bridge in attempt to invoke Wang's return.
The family has said that the circumstances surrounding Wang's death seem highly suspicious and are demanding that law enforcement officers conduct a more thorough investigation to rule out homicide.
The police said they discovered a floating corpse on the river yesterday afternoon around one o'clock. The Wang family was immediately called to the scene to identify the body.
Based on the clothing and the length of the body, the family made a preliminary identification saying that it was Wang. Some scratch marks were found on the face, said the police.
Wang's father, devastated by his daughter's death, kept calling her nickname. Wang's family has asked her friends and classmates to burn incense for their daughter to ensure her safe journey to the "other world."