Murder of Australian woman in Chiayi?

I received this from an Ozzie reporter in Oz. she asked that she remain anonymous for obivous reasons.

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?


Case of Australian national found dead in Chiayi 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 (

So… alleged shoddy policework in Taiwan? An implication that the alleged perps may have colluded with the police? Lack of any concept of investigative reporting in Taiwan?

This is supposed to be news?

I thought the China Post said she was from South Africa…

Why? so more people can jump to the wrong conclusion? Or to teach people to be careful on rainey nights?
she asked that she remain anonymous for obivous reasons.
And she wrote the story anonymously for the newspaper? What "obvious reasons"?
quote[quote] Heard that the father is former Oz soldier and doing his own private FBI investigation. [/quote] Former soldier? Oh right, that makes him fully qualified to investigate.
quote[quote] Bretel died from an accidental fall down a stairways in her apartment building on a rainy night (she apparently slipped and fell) [/quote]
quote[quote]she fell from a 5th floor balcony [/quote] Now which was it, the stairs or the balcony?
quote[quote] 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." [/quote] Ok, she wasn't on the fifth floor balconey, or the third floor, she was on the roof drinking wine and correcting papers, in the rain, that sounds normal...
quote[quote]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. [/quote] Connect the dots. Unhappily married woman, having an affair in Taiwan, bad break up with current boyfriend, been drinking, demonstrates very odd behaviour by correcting papers on the roof in the rain, out of wine, locks her apartment, legs it to the local 7/11 to buy more, slips on the wet steps. Was this an accident? You decide.

C’mon guys, there are enough stupid urban legend type stories on the net already, don’t feel the need to spread more. Maybe she was murdered, she probably wasn’t. If her husband is so concerned, then why was the body cremated and not brought home for an autopsy (assuming the local police and medical staff are not to be trusted, as is implied). It’s a good fairey tale, has all the elements, the mysterious ganster boyfriend, the corrupt police, rainey night, fifth floor balconies, glasses of wine, the great whodunnit. Think about it a little.

I’m inclined to believe the poor girl was murdered, especially if what they say about the local love affair is true.

Situations of abuse leading to murder are not uncommon anywhere in the world, however some parts of the world have lower tolerance for domestic-type violence than others. Taiwan, is not one, sad to say. I’m still waiting for the day when my downstairs neighbour gets carted off to jail for beating his wife and disturbing the peace.

Besides, murders are covered up all the time in Taiwan, so why should the case of a young Aussie girl be any different?

Does anyone remember the foreign woman in Taichung getting killed a few years back? As I know the husband never got a single direct answer, nor was the murderer found.

If the Aussie girl was involved with the son of a politician, gangster, or businessman, the likelihood of ever getting to the bottom of this case is zip.
Come on…she slipped and fell??? right…
I smell a big, stinky, psychotic, RAT!

Originally posted by crazyabouttaiwan: Ozzie reporter in Oz... asked that she remain anonymous for obvious reasons..
I don't get it either. What were the obvious reasons? She's a reporter for Chrissakes. [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]

has this story been reported in any Aussiepapers, does anyone know?

Yes, original CHina Post news brief said she was South AFrican. Never corrected or follow up in that paper. But Taipei Times did two stories after the Post stories, and said she was Australian woman of 23, been in Taiwan for a year. Did not say where she taught, name of school or address of apartment.

Heard that one Australian reporter now in Thailand, got wind of this story, may come to Taiwan to file report.

Yes, could have been a mere accident, sure. Probably was. Slipped while drinking wine correcting student papers… yes makes sense.

But the main point of all this is … where was the third floor – no, the 5th floor balcony – sorry, I mean the roof … oh **** it, wherever she was, I mean, where did all this take place in relation to the grassy knoll?
And why would the FBI get involved with an Australian’s private investigation?
My ******** antenna are picking something up…

Dan, you’ve been here for many years. I don’t understand what it is you’re getting worked up about. A possible crime investigation screwed up, either accidentally or on purpose, by the cops. So what. Like it doesn’t happen to some extent in almost everything the police here touch?
The local (Taipei) cops are inherently corrupt, from top to bottom, as well as pretty much totally inept, and I’d be surprised if the plods down in Chiayi aren’t even worse.

Or do you think its somehow worse because a foreigner is involved?

For what it is worth, I know a friend of a friend of that girl, and too have heard she had pretty strong connections with gangster types in Chiayi, as well as saying gangsters were attacking her dog. Yes, it makes a great urban legend, but you can’t help but wonder. The other things that haven’t been mentioned (again, this is from a friend of a friend) is that she said she was going to work as a prositute and that around the time of her troubles and death, some of her foreign friends (if you can call them that) fled the country to save their own backs.

This whole thing, however, doesn’t surprise me. Naive 20somethings (and naive South Africans willing to teach for as low as NT$30,000 a month) are reguarly shipped to Chiayi to teach. That place is practically the end of the earth if you are a non-Chinese speaking foreignor with no friends or family there. That combined with easy access to alcohol and drugs is a recipe for disaster. It seems every year for the last 12 years I’ve been here, there is always some foreignor involved in a mystery death.

The story of the woman being South African came from the Central News Agency who, as I firmly believe, got it wrong – along with her name (switched the Christian with the family name) and her age (CNA had her at 26). The Post just runs the wire copy stat.
The management at CNA laughed at the bad information, with one local yokel there saying: “Maybe it was another foreigner in Chiayi who died.”
There were also guffaws along the lines of, “A foreigner dies? Who could possibly care?”

Not to change the topic, but I have had to edit this thread due to bad language. I encourage all of you to express your opnions, but I’d prefer if you don’t use those naughty four letter words and there variations. I think the topic is interesting, keep it up, just keep it clean.

If you have questions you can see for more information on Oriented’s rules. Or email Gus at or myself.



crazyabouttaiwan and CRACKPOT,

Thanks for clarifing the story for me. I usually only read the China Post just for the comics!


Hi Sandman.

Yeh been here for years I guess. Will email you offline later. I guess I was just trying to find out if any other posters/readers had any info on the alleged accident case down there in Chiayi. Of course, none of the papers will look very deeply into it, since it is a done deed and this kind of thing happens all the time.

Maybe some other info will surface later, if the father of the dead woman comes up with a good investigation of his own. Might take a few months, or years.

The CNA take on the story was interesting, too. I’m outta here for a while, let me know if you find anything else later on.

Is there any new news about this case?

Also what is the status of the guy who went missing on the eastern coast a couple of days ago? Any status on finding him?


From the details given by AIT, sounds like he might have drowned. AIT’s notice, which can be found at seems a bit vague.

Originally posted by JeffG: I usually only read the China Post just for the comics!
And so do I - its the only thing the China Post is worth buying for. But to return to the topic: I'm a bit surprised about the description Flicka gave about Chiayi. My girl friend is from Chiayi, so I'm popping up there quite often. I am not restricted to English when talking to people, so I don't know what one's situation in Chiayi would be in that case (though, even Mandarin is not everywhere spoken), but I always found the Chiayi people to be quite nice and friendly. If there would be a job, I would probably already have left Taichung and been living there. Yes, there are people with some "dark" connections and they are even elected into the city council, but compared to people in the Taichung county council they mean almost nothing. Also, I saw the number of foreigners in Chiayi once mentioned to be 99, which is not too high for a city of that size I think. So, is Chiayi really that bad and have I always been in another, safer part of Chiayi? This is not meant to be criticism, I'm only worried to find an almost completely different view of Chiayi (after all, I'm not living there) and would like to get things clear...


Originally posted by Flicka The Frequent Flier: ..she had pretty strong connections with gangster types in Chiayi.. and she said she was going to work as a prositute...

Nice twist.

I heard from a journalist friend tonight that it was murder afterall, but BF not jailed. Anyone else know about this?

Taiwanese gangster-types going out with foreign girls? That is a most curious thing. Most of them don’t go for foreign girls. A ‘betel-nut beauty’ type is more commonly seen. Besides that, most of these southern “tai ke” speak Taiwanese, and barely speak Mandarin, let alone English. That would put a damper on such a relationship. The “accident” does sound fishy, but how to explain this element of it? Is there a more sophisticated gangster sub-culture out there than we we normally see on the streets of Sanchung, Chaiyi, or Pingdong?

I’ve met quite a few foreign women going out with gangsters actually. Maybe it’s a buzz for them. Ask V.