An Auckland businesswoman whose body was found in the boot of her car was facing financial difficulties before her death.
Stuff understands Zhong was subjected to a brutal attack before she died, and Detective Inspector Shaun Vickers confirmed police are treating her death as a suspected homicide.
Her body was discovered in the boot of her car 700m away from her $2 million home in Suzetta Pl, Sunnyhills, near Pakuranga, on Saturday morning. The cause of her death has not yet been determined.
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Zhong was the sole director and shareholder of visual effects company Digipost Entertainment Ltd, based in Epsom.
The Owens Rd building was sold at a mortgagee sale to Steve Wright, who told Stuff on Monday, he was “devastated” to hear about Zhong’s death.
“Elizabeth was a very nice person … she was hopeful she was going to have some [film] productions but it was a house of cards situation,” Wright said.
Wright said Zhong was facing a lot of financial pressures and she owed him a small amount of money.
“But it was nothing that I couldn’t forgive,” he said.
“She was honourable and trying to do the best she could.”
Zhong was also the sole director and shareholder of wine making companies Kennedy Point Group Ltd and Carrick Wines Ltd, both of which are in receivership.
Carrick Winery manager Cliff Wickman described Zhong as a “lovely lady, who gave great hugs”.
In February 2019, Stuff reported Zhong was selling Carrick Winery, in Central Otago, to help fund her movie-making career.
Andrew Bethell, from accountancy firm BDO, who is processing Carrick’s receivership, said he was “pretty shocked” by the news and his thoughts were with Zhong’s family.
Police, and forensics officers in white boiler suits, remained at Zhong’s house on Monday, where a bunch of white roses have been placed at a cordon.
A neighbour told Stuff there had been an incident at the house about a month ago, where Zhong was taken to hospital in an ambulance.
“There were two friends there, one went with her to the hospital and another stayed at the house, sitting outside with his head in his hands,” she said.
On Friday night, the woman noticed the lights inside Zhong’s house had been left on.
Around 4pm on Saturday, the woman’s partner noticed Zhong’s car was parked around the corner from her house – where it was later found with her body inside.
“He recognised it, we know everyone’s cars on this street,” she said.
Another neighbour said a resident on the street saw a black car, with Zhong and another person inside, leaving Zhong’s garage on Friday night.
“That house has always been strange,” the man said.
“I got the impression she [Zhong] was the only one living there.”
Zhong’s friends were seen door-knocking around the area on Saturday morning searching for her before police turned up at the house.
Zhong’s ex-husband Frank Fu, was seen outside her house on Saturday night. He told Stuff he did not know what had happened but feared foul play.
Fu, Zhong and their daughter, who now works for Treasury in Wellington, came to New Zealand in 1997 for work.
The couple separated in 2017 and Zhong had a new partner, he said.
Anyone with information that may assist the police inquiry is asked to contact 105, quoting file number 201128/1909.