The body parts found at opposite ends of Toronto over the last week belong to a 41-year-old woman named Guang Hua Liu. She owned a spa in the eastern suburb of Scarborough, police said on Tuesday.
The discovery on Wednesday of a foot with yellow-painted toenails floating in a river near Toronto triggered a police search that uncovered a severed head the next day and two hands on Friday, all in or along the Credit River in Mississauga.
Over the weekend, more body parts were found in Scarborough, a good 30km from the Mississauga site and not far from the neighbourhood where Liu owned a spa.
Police in Peel Region, where the first parts were found, said their murder investigation was still in the early stages and had not established how Liu died.
"We have not as yet determined a cause of death, but we are treating this as a homicide investigation," Peel Regional Police inspector George Koekkoek told reporters, adding that some parts of the body are "still outstanding".
Police said Liu, a mother of three, was last seen by friends on August 10, just five days before two hikers discovered her foot floating in the river just west of Toronto.
That find triggered a series of grisly discoveries that have held the attention of a city that takes pride in its relatively low crime rate compared with US urban centres.
The case has drawn comparisons with the case of Canadian Luka Magnotta, a small-time porn actor accused of murdering a student whose body parts were mailed to several locations in Canada earlier this year.
Police have said the situations are not linked.
Koekkoek said police believe the case to be isolated and does not present a threat to the general public.
Koekkoek said Liu’s three children were with their father.