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New Details Emerge About Car Tied to Missing ISU Student’s Investigation

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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The investigation into what happened to the missing Iowa State student, Tong Shao, began in Ames nearly three weeks ago. In the last 48 hours the investigation focused on a body found in a car in Iowa City. Now the investigation could be heading overseas with many questions left unanswered.

On September 6, friends reported Shao missing.

Two days later on September 8, friends of Shao received a message from her saying she was in Iowa City visiting a friend. Police say that was the last time anyone had heard from her.

According to Ames Police, Shao’s friends contacted police almost a week later on September 17 saying it was unusual they had still not been in contact with her.

Ames Police Commander, Geoff Huff, says after searching Shao’s apartment the following week, they found a receipt from a car dealership in Kentucky with information on a Toyota Camry. The car did not have Iowa license plates. Police ran the license plates through a national registry search and found the 1997 beige Camry was purchased and registered in Kentucky under Shao’s name. Police say the missing girl lived in Kentucky this summer while completing an internship when she purchased the car. In the afternoon of September 26, the department posted a description of the car; that evening Iowa City police discovered the car with a body in the trunk in an apartment parking lot.

Iowa City Police say the body in the trunk had likely been there for several days. Neighbors reported smelling a strong odor from the car and claim the car had been parked in the lot for weeks. Police would not confirm if the body in the car was Shao.

On Saturday an autopsy was scheduled to identify the body and determine the cause of death. Authorities say Shao’s boyfriend is their main person of interest and believe he is the last person who may have seen her. They believe he has left the country and is back in China.

Channel 13 inquired more about the person of interest but the agencies involved in the case did not respond to our calls. There is no word on when the autopsy results will be completed.

What we know about Tong Shao

Facebook shows the 20–year–old was an international student from Dalian, China. Dalian is a major seaport city on a peninsula east of Beijing. The Iowa State student directory shows Shao as a chemical engineering student.