A mobile phone's location application has led police to a mainlander allegedly involved in the murder of Tuen Mun Hospital ophthalmologist Colette Tsang Shi-lok.
The suspect, in his 20s, was nabbed by mainland police in Henan province, about 1,300km from Shenzhen, where Tsang, 39, was found strangled in her Dameisha beach resort hotel room on Boxing Day, a Hong Kong police source said yesterday.
The source said mainland authorities had used the tracking app on her stolen iPhone to trace their way to the man in Henan, where he was picked up and the cellphone recovered on Sunday.
Surveillance cameras in Tsang's Shenzhen hotel had captured footage of a suspicious man entering and leaving the hotel during the time she was killed, but it is not known whether the suspect nabbed was that man.
However, it is understood that the possibility of a contract killing has been ruled out.
"It is possible the victim was strangled in her room when a robbery went wrong," the police source said.
When asked why her wallet and other items such as cash were not taken, the source said: "The culprit might have had to flee in a hurry and did not have time to search the room."
A veteran detective said the "Find My iPhone" app can be used to recover a missing iPhone even if the phone's SIM card has been removed, and that many of the city's stolen iPhones had been recovered using the app.
Tsang had on Christmas Eve gone to Shenzhen with her boyfriend. They stayed in separate rooms. She was found dead in bed on December 26 when her boyfriend asked hotel staff to open her door after she did not answer it. Her mobile phone and digital camera were missing, but her wallet containing cash and credit cards were not taken.
Tsang's body was sent back to Hong Kong on January 4 and an autopsy was carried out the following day.
A police investigator said there were marks on her neck suggesting she was strangled, but that the post-mortem results were inconclusive as her voice box and stomach had been removed during a previous autopsy on the mainland.
Officers from the organised crime and triad bureau are compiling a death report to the coroner who will decide whether an inquest will be held.