'I wanted to steal some money,' accused killer of B.C. model says

The man Chinese authorities accuse of killing a B.C. model in Shanghai earlier this month says he stabbed Diana O'Brien after she hit him and knocked him to the floor, reports a Shanghai television news program.

Suspect needed funds to return to hometown, report says

Chen Jun, 18, was arrested in Xuancheng city, several hundred kilometres west of Shanghai, four days after Diana O'Brien's body was found on July 6. ((Dongfang 110))

The man Chinese authorities accuse of killing a B.C. model in Shanghai earlier this month says he stabbed Diana O'Brien after she hit him and knocked him to the floor, reports a Shanghai television news program.

Dongfang 110, a twice-weekly news show broadcast by the Shanghai Media Group, posted a 20-minute feature on its website on Thursday, detailing the Chinese police investigation into O'Brien's death and the subsequent arrest of Chen Jun, an 18-year-old migrant worker from Anhui province.

Shanghai Media Group is a regional television station that is not owned by the state, but journalism in China is generally tightly controlled by the government.

Chinese police formed a special task force and arrested Chen in his hometown, Xuancheng city, four days after O'Brien's body was discovered in the stairway of her Shanghai apartment on July 6.

O'Brien had travelled to China in mid-June after landing a three-month contract with Jh Model Agency in Shanghai. The agency appears to have vanished since she died.

The Chinese news program showed video footage of bloodstains in O'Brien's apartment and the stairway, closed-circuit camera footage around her apartment building, interviews of police officers in charge of the investigation, and an interview with Chen, who wore a sleeveless orange shirt and checkered shorts.

Diana O'Brien, 22, began modelling locally more than a year ago and a stint in Milan was her first big break.

Chen moved to Shanghai two years ago, seeking employment, and worked various jobs. He was unemployed after quitting as a waiter at a tea house near O'Brien's apartment in June, the program said.

Chinese police have said Chen confessed to following O'Brien into her apartment with the intention of robbing her and to killing her when she resisted. Chen is not shown saying he followed O'Brien or killed her in the Chinese television report, although he does talk about wanting to commit a robbery.

"I wanted to return to my hometown but didn't even have the money to pay for the journey. That's why I wanted to steal some money," Chen said in the Chinese television interview. It's not known who interviewed him.

Chen said he sneaked into O'Brien's apartment building and walked from floor to floor, looking for opportunities to steal money.

O'Brien's apartment door ajar: Chen

"I walked to the sixth floor and heard some noise from a TV. I noticed that the door to her apartment was half open. I peeped inside and didn't see anyone in," he said in the interview.

"I entered the apartment thinking I would just take something from the living room and then leave."

Friends set up a small shrine at Diana O'Brien's Saltspring Island, B.C., home after learning of her death in China. ((CBC))

O'Brien, who was alone in her apartment, came out of her bedroom and saw Chen, the program says.

"She saw me carrying the computer and getting ready to leave so she rushed over to grab it from me," Chen said. "She hit me and knocked me to the floor when I wasn't paying attention."

Chen then took out a knife from his pocket and stabbed O'Brien, who was wounded but ran out of the apartment, the program says. Fearing she would alert neighbours, it says, Chen followed her into the stairwell and stabbed her again.

A police investigator said on the program that neighbours heard a man and a woman yelling but thought it was a domestic dispute and didn't call the authorities.

An autopsy showed O'Brien died of stab wounds to her heart and liver, Shanghai officials said. The estimated time of death was between 11 p.m. and midnight, which coincided with the time of the yelling described by the neighbours, the program reported.

Suspect returned to apartment

The program had video from a security camera apparently recording a young man in dark clothing and white running shoes entering O'Brien's building at 11:03 p.m. and leaving empty-handed at 11:47 p.m.

The camera then recorded what looks like the same man entering the building at 3:49 a.m. and leaving 12 minutes later, carrying a piece of luggage and some other possessions that police said belonged to O'Brien.

Shanghai police tracked down Chen in his hometown, searched the room of an inn he was staying at, and found O'Brien's things along with a knife, the weapon allegedly used to stab her, the program reported.

It is not known when Chen will be sent to trial.

The slaying of O'Brien prompted concern about the safety of Canadian models working in China, where the legitimacy and credibility of model agencies have been called into question.

Friends and family held a memorial for O'Brien Sunday. They were trying to have her body returned to Canada.