Elizabeth Zhong homicide: Victim killed at home before being put in car boot – police

An East Auckland woman was killed in her house before being put in the boot of her car, police say.

Ying Zhong (also known as Elizabeth Zhong), 55, was found dead in Sunnyhills last Saturday. She is believed to have been murdered.

Police have formally identified the victim as Zhong, Acting Detective Inspector Shaun Vickers told media this afternoon.

“Elizabeth was killed in her house,” Vickers said.

She was placed in her Land Rover when she was deceased and items from the house were placed over her, Vickers said. He did not what the items were.

The scene examination would continue for some time, Vickers said.

The police’s investigation is focusing on the evening of Friday, November 27 to November 28. The last confirmed sighting is her alive at home at 4.30pm on Friday.

“We have a team of detectives working on the investigation and we’re making progress every day,” Vickers said.

The phone call to police was made by a close associate of Elizabeth, Vickers said. Police were called to the address at about 10am on Saturday, November 28. Police located her in the boot of her Land Rover that day.

Asked what time she died, he said they were focusing their inquiries on the period from 4.30pm on Friday to about 10am on Saturday when the vehicle was found.

CCTV-based inquiries are taking place in the area of her home.

Asked about sightings of an unknown male near Elizabeth’s house, Vickers said: “I’m aware of that info. The investigation team is keeping an open mind, but it is early days and we need to prioritise … it will form part of the investigation.”

Questions remain over how business went so badly for Zhong in recent years.

The East Auckland grandmother took over post-production house Digipost and an associated $7 million property in 2017.

On Friday, a person familiar with the Digipost deal rejected claims there was a lack of due diligence when Zhong bought the company.

Instead, the person described detailed, drawn-out negotiations and said Zhong was sincere and ambitious about making movies.

But a source said Zhong’s inability to make projects succeed in recent years was problematic and ultimately put the company in jeopardy.

Other enterprises Zhong was previously involved with included Kennedy Point Vineyard on Waiheke Island and Carrick Wines in Central Otago.

One vineyard staffer said Zhong had had nothing to do with the Waiheke organic winemaker since liquidators took over last December.

Zhong’s Sunbow Group described itself online as previously running the vineyards and the Digipost film production company.

But all three businesses were recently sold or placed into receivership or liquidation.

Some people familiar with Zhong described her as kind-hearted, dynamic and likeable.

“She was a warm and generous person,” Digipost founder and former owner Garry Little said on Friday.

“She’d always remember people’s birthdays.”

In February 2019, Zhong announced “reluctant’ plans to sell her Carrick vineyard and winery, describing it as her “dream vineyard”.

On October 30 this year, Andrew McKay and Andrew Bethell, of BDO, were appointed as Sunbow’s receivers.

Bethell earlier this week said he was “very saddened” to hear of Zhong’s death and his thoughts went out to those who knew her and to her family.

He declined to discuss the company’s level of debt.

• Police have previously said anyone with information should phone 105, quoting file number 201128/1909.


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