Hilary St John Bower, a language instructor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University was murdered on the night that he disappeared on 22 March, Hong Kong police said. The 60-year-old who vanished in Shenzhen in China three weeks ago had sparked an anxious 22-day search by family members and friends.
A Hong Kong police spokesman told South China Morning Post that Chinese authorities had issued a 'notification' that Bower was killed on the mainland on the night of 22 March, the date he was last seen alive at the Lo Wu border crossing. The newspaper said that it understands arrests have been made but there are no details on how Bower died or when the Hong Kong police were informed of his murder.
There were fears that his disappearance could have been tied to a HK$9m (£810,000) windfall he was expecting from the sale of a property in China. A global law enforcement alert was set in place after Bower's brother contacted police in the UK over his disappearance. The UK police in turn went through Interpol to try and get more information from China's Public Security Bureau.
Bower's younger brother, Robin, is on a flight for Hong Kong from London on 12 April. It is not known if he is aware that his brother has been found murdered, the newspaper said.
Richard Charles, Bower's friend and colleague at the university in Hong Kong, criticised the police in both Hong Kong and China for their "shoddy and shambolic" handling of Bower's disappearance and their treatment of relatives and friends.
He said: "I find it unbelievable that Hilary's friends and colleagues have had to find out from the media about this. We are in shock and are extremely upset." Referring to Bower's windfall, Charles said: "I do know that after buying at the bottom of the property market a good few years ago, he was expecting to be paid somewhere in the region of HK$9m for a property he just sold in Shekou."
The Telegraph said that Bower lived in the city of Shenzhen in China with his girlfriend and their six-year-old son. He had crossed the Lo Wu border post from Hong Kong into China at 5.10pm local time on 22 March. He called his girlfriend at around 9pm but has not been in contact since.
Bower has been teaching at the university in 1996. He lived in Shenzen which is within commuting distance to Hong Kong and offers cheaper housing. In the university's website, Bower said that he has taught in China, South Korea, Thailand, Spain and Kuwait.