Yanfei Bao missing: Police continue search for real estate agent; family to fly in from China

3 min read


Police will today continue their search for Christchurch woman Yanfei Bao, 10 days after she was last seen alive, as her family are set to travel to New Zealand.

A homicide probe was launched on Wednesday by police investigating the disturbing disappearance of the 44-year-old, who was last seen alive on July 19.

“I do not believe she is alive,” Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves said.

From Wednesday police have appeared to focus their efforts on the Halswell River and Lake Ellesmere using Police Search and Rescue, LandSar volunteers, Coastguard, surf lifesaving members, the Police Specialist Search Group, police dog teams, Garden City Helicopters and Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (Arec) hunting on the ground, water and in the sky.

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This morning, Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves said police were continuing their search through the weekend.

“The Police Specialist Search Group will be conducting search activities in the Christchurch City area.

“Searching of the Halswell River and Lake Ellesmere has been paused and will resume once the water level recedes.”

Reeves said police had been grateful for the huge response from the public in relation to this investigation.

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“The investigation team has now received in excess of 200 pieces of information which is helpful to piecing together what has happened.

“The investigation team continues to be interested in hearing from members of the public that saw Ms Bao’s vehicle on the day she went missing, Wednesday, July 19.”

Anyone who saw her silver Nissan Dualis after 12.30pm and before 10.45pm is urged to contact police, she said.

Bao’s family are also expected to travel to New Zealand from China, police confirmed.

Coastguard members search for missing woman Yanfei Bao on Friday. Photo / George Heard
Coastguard members search for missing woman Yanfei Bao on Friday. Photo / George Heard

In a statement on Friday, Bao’s employer spoke of the impact her disappearance had had on her colleagues.

“It is with very heavy hearts that Harcourts Group team members across our group received the latest update from Canterbury police regarding the disappearance of our colleague, Yanfei Bao,” Harcourts managing director Bryan Thomson said.

“Our thoughts are with Yanfei’s family, friends, and work colleagues at this deeply challenging time.

“Should anyone have any information, no matter how trivial it may seem, please contact the Canterbury Police immediately.”

Staff have been searching Lake Ellesmere. Photo / George Heard
Staff have been searching Lake Ellesmere. Photo / George Heard

Police earlier said they remained committed to finding the 44-year-old mother and returning her to her family.

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On Thursday evening, police said they had been out in large numbers across Christchurch.

The Police National Dive Squad had been on the water in the Halswell River and was assisted by surf lifesaving personnel.

“The dive squad is utilising sonar technology to search beneath the surface of the water and identify anything that may be of interest,” Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves said.

Police have been conducting grid searches of the area of Brighton Rd and Lake Terrace Rd and in the suburb of Greenpark.

Helicopters are also going to be used in the search. Photo / George Heard
Helicopters are also going to be used in the search. Photo / George Heard

“We remain committed to finding Ms Bao,” Reeves said.

“Police would like to thank all the personnel and volunteers from our partner agencies for the time and commitment they have given to this operation.”

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Bao was last seen about 10am on Trevor St, Hornby where she was due to show a potential buyer through a home.

Police searching the Halswell River in relation to the disappearance of Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard
Police searching the Halswell River in relation to the disappearance of Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard

The 52-year-old man charged with kidnapping Bao appeared in court this week.

The Herald revealed the man had only been living in New Zealand for several months.

Police were tight-lipped over what the man had told them. Reeves confirmed further charges are being considered.

Police launched a homicide investigation on Wednesday. Photo / George Heard
Police launched a homicide investigation on Wednesday. Photo / George Heard

Bao’s car was seen on CCTV footage in Hornby’s Trevor St, where police forensic scene experts have been examining a house.

Police had also seen a silver Mitsubishi – seized as part of their inquiry – on the street, while Bao’s cell phone was found on the side of the Southern Motorway on Friday.

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“Our search for Ms Bao is continuing, with significant police resources committed to finding her and bringing her home to her family,” Reeves said.

Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves discusses the disappearance of Christchurch real estate agent Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard
Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves discusses the disappearance of Christchurch real estate agent Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard

Police say they have received more than 170 pieces of information from the public, which has led them to various search locations.

On Thursday, Reeves was calling for more help, especially around sightings of Bao’s silver Nissan Dualis, which was found parked in Iroquois Pl in Wigram – and was earlier at the Trevor St property which is for sale.

“We are looking for sightings of her vehicle just after midday [last] Wednesday,” Reeves said.

As of Friday, Bao was still missing. Photo / George Heard
As of Friday, Bao was still missing. Photo / George Heard

“There is significant concern that has come from that address. I won’t go into what I think has happened there.”

It wasn’t until Bao failed to pick up her 9-year-old daughter from after-school care that police were called and concerns were first raised.

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Forensic staff are investigating a home on Trevor St in Hornby in relation to missing woman Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard
Forensic staff are investigating a home on Trevor St in Hornby in relation to missing woman Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard

Earlier asked about a potential motive, Reeves said a big focus of the investigation would be to look into Bao’s background and her activities to “see who she may have crossed paths with … to work out what the motivation might be. It’s too early to say what that is at this stage.”

  • Anyone who had seen Yanfei Bao, or had any information about where she could be, is urged to call 111 immediately and quote event number P055385539.

Sam Sherwood is a Christchurch-based reporter who covers crime. He is a senior journalist who joined the Herald in 2022, and has worked as a journalist for 10 years.



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