Remains identified as Aucklander Cissy Chen

DISCOVERY: Police examined the site where human bones were found in Totaravale Reserve, North Shore, Auckland.
DISCOVERY: Police examined the site where human bones were found in Totaravale Reserve, North Shore, Auckland.

The human remains discovered in a North Shore reserve have been identified as missing Auckland woman Cissy Chen.

Police confirmed today the bones found in a drain at Totaravale Reserve on Monday last week were those of the missing woman.

Detective Inspector Bruce Scott said her death was still being treated as a homicide, but declined to comment on the cause of death. Chen, a 44-year-old accountant, disappeared after leaving her Torbay home on November 5, 2012.

Extensive police searches failed to find any trace of her at the time of her disappearance.

Police launched a homicide inquiry, Operation Waiau, two weeks after the initial searches.

Scott, who heads the inquiry, said the discovery of Chen’s body was a significant breakthrough in the investigation.

‘‘The area that Cissy’s body has been found in was well known to both Cissy and her partner,’’ he said. 

Chen and her partner, Yun ‘‘Jack’’ Qing Liu, lived about 10 kilometres from the reserve and regularly walked around the neighbourhood.

Her family were understandably upset, but pleased that her body had been found, Scott said.

‘‘There’s obviously the disappointment for them that she has been confirmed as dead. They’d always hoped that something not untoward had happened to her.’’

 Chen’s brothers plan to fly to Auckland from China.

‘‘Now that they’ve got her back, they’ve got something to grieve over.’’

Chen was last seen leaving work at a small business in Glenfield.

She made phone calls to family in China from her Waiau St home where she lived with Liu.

He reported her missing about 9.30pm and told police she had not returned from a regular walk along Long Bay Beach.

Police believe she died on the day she went missing.

‘‘I can’t say how she died, but we are still treating it as a homicide,’’ Scott said.

Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen Chen or anything suspicious between 4.30pm and 9.30pm on Guy Fawkes night 2012 to come forward.

Twelve police are working on Operation Waiau.

A lawn-mowing contractor discovered the remains in a drain in the Glenfield reserve.

Further investigation by a specialist police search team resulted in more bones being found.

Police are now speaking to both current and former residents of the area.

Chen’s brothers, Philip and Peter, visited from China shortly after her disappearance.

Older brother Philip told media then how desperate the family was for news of her.

‘‘It’s in our Chinese culture to have the person, dead or alive, to be home for peace of mind,’’ he said.

‘‘Otherwise we will never feel this is the end of one’s life.’’ 

Her family wrote a heartfelt plea for help on the anniversary of her death last year.

‘‘In the past year, our hearts have hurt over and over whenever we think about Cissy.’’

 Anyone with information should call Operation Waiau team on 0800 024 779 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Fairfax Media