|Subject: Case of Australian national found dead in Chiayi
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Date Posted: 20:35:49 12/10/02 Tue
chilling no? I wonder if local English papers will dig more into story? Heard that the father is former Oz soldier and doing his own private FBI investigation. She did not slip and fall, folks.... or did she?
remains a mystery
by an Australian reporter in Sydney
When 23-year-old Australian teacher Elizabeth Bretel, who was working in Chiayi City as an English teacher at a local bushiban, died in what the police have called a freak accident, not everyone in the southern Taiwan city was convinced. Although news stories in both the China Post and the Taipei Times on the island called the death an accident, there are rumors floating around Chiayi City that the woman was the victim of a love affair gone wrong and that she was killed by a local man with so-called "seedy" connections. All this, of course, is "off the record." Of course.
However, an Australian woman who knew Bretel told a reporter by phone in Australia that Bretel had been involved in a love affair with a young man with known, so-called "unfriendly" connections, and when Bretel wanted to break off the romance, "the man went beserk and threatened her life, her dog, the whole nine yards of male anger." Bretel had even tried, apparently, to leave Chiayi a few weeks before she died, but she was stopped by her boyfriend on the train to Taipei and turned back, this reporter was told in an anonymous e-mail from Taiwan. The man also threatened to kill her dog, the email said.
Although police have concluded with an autopsy report, stamped and sealed by government officials, that says Bretel died from an accidental fall down a stairways in her apartment building on a rainy night (she apparently slipped and fell), many expats in the Chiayi area are pretty sure that it was not an accident, according to reports coming to Australia. Bretel lived on the 3rd floor of her building, and the police report says she fell from a 5th floor balcony. Go figure. Connect the dots. Local boyfriend with alleged seedy connections, love affair gone awry, male ego damaged heavily by break-up of love affair, death threats, freak accident on a rainy night. Was this an accident? You decide.
According to another email from Chiayi City, from an American woman who knew Bretel, the roof of Bretel's apartment building showed a wine glass and some home work papers she was apparently correcting at the time of the "accident." This scene may have been set up by seedy people involved in the "accident," according to the worried email.
TAIPEI TIMES, January 29: "Police have yet to determine the cause of death of a 23-year-old Australian who taught English in Chiayi. On Saturday, Elizabeth Yvette Bretel was found unconscious, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of her apartment stairs.
She was taken to St. Martin de Porres Hospital, but doctors could do little to save her life. Police believe that Bretel fell, although forensic experts have yet to reveal the results of an autopsy."
TAIPEI TIMES, Jan. 29: "Though police note that Bretel was found with a wound to her head, they ordered an autopsy to determine whether the cause of death was due to an accident or other reasons. 'We will be able to learn more about this case after we receive the results of the autopsy,' said Shih Kun-mo (¬I±X¿Ñ , section head of the Criminal Department at Chiayi City's second police department branch. Shih also dismissed rumors that Bretel was beaten by local gangsters.
'These rumors are not true,' he said. 'We did not find any scars or marks whatsoever indicating she had been beaten.'"
TAIPEI TIMES headline a few days later on Feb. 3: "Police rule out foul play in death of Australian teacher"
TAIPEI TIMES, Feb. 3: "Chiayi City Police yesterday said that Elizabeth Bretel, the 23-year-old Australian teacher found dead at the bottom of the stairs in her apartment building Jan. 26, died as a result of an accident."
TAIPEI TIMES, Feb. 3: "We found no other scar or mark on her to lead us to suspect foul play. Evidence such as footprints and fingerprints show she fell from the balcony on the fifth floor of the building, although her own room was on the third floor," Shih Kun-mo (¬I±X¿Ñ , section head of the Criminal Department at Chiayi City's second police department branch, said. "What she was doing on the balcony was a mystery because we have no witness evidence on that. We are pretty sure that it was an accident, however. When she was found, she was fully clothed," he said. "Her room on the third floor was locked and there was no sign of robbery or theft."
TAIPEI TIMES, Feb. 3: "An autopsy verdict of accidental death in Taiwan stands unless relatives of persons named on the death certificate appeal the decision within a year, in which case an inquest is held. 'It is sad but the evidence says it all,' Shih said. 'She was cremated and her family members have taken her ashes back to Australia. The case is closed.'"
Is the case really closed? Word in Australia has it that Bretel's father, a former soldier in the Australian military, has launched a private investigation of his own, having heard from Bretel's friends that she had had a love affair gone deadly wrong with a local man. Although there were no known witnesses to whatever happened to Bretel on that fateful night, rumors abound and the case is far from closed in the public mind, especially expats living in Taiwan. As a result, some expat teachers in the Chiayi area are thinking of leaving the city as soon as possible, fearing the environment, another email message said.
Most local Chiayi residents of Taiwanese nationality seem unconcerned with what happened and have accepted the police report at face value, according to an email received in Australia. Local Chinese-language newspapers did report the case, as did local TV reports, but most of the Taiwanese public has accepted the final police report and consider the case closed and the event a tragic accident.
Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't. Stay tuned to reports in the Australian media. You won't find anything in the Taiwan media, however, where the case has already been shelved and filed away as FREAK ACCIDENT CASE CLOSED.
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