True Crime Byline: The Case Lori Culbert Got Wrong
After a 21-year-old exchange student from China vanished without a trace in October 2002, the Vancouver Sun sent me and my Mandarin-speaking colleague Peg Fong to Coquitlam, where we interviewed Amanda Zhao’s grief-stricken best friend and her fellow students at the college she was attending to improve her English.
They all said the disappearance was out of character for Zhao, who they recalled as being hard-working, kind and trusting.
We also interviewed Zhao’s distraught parents in Beijing, who said their only child “was our hope, she is our future.”
I tracked down Zhao’s 20-year-old boyfriend and interviewed him inside the basement suite in Burnaby where he had lived with Zhao for about six months before she went missing. He wept about her disappearance, and said he was guilt-ridden that he let Zhao walk alone to the grocery store the night she disappeared.
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