Dead Girl Photo Mystery

Outrage over Hangzhou police's cartoon murder appeal

POLICE in Hangzhou are offering up to 20,000 yuan (US$3,218) to anyone who can solve the "hidden clue" of three playing cards found near a murder victim.

But the online post has been condemned as disrespectful to the victim. A picture of her dead body had been posted online together with an image of popular Japanese cartoon character Detective Conan.

While thousands of netizens speculated about what the king of spades, jack of diamonds and five of spades might mean, many others accused police of a publicity stunt.

Police said the 25-year-old woman, 1.58 meters tall, was found dead in greenery in Hangzhou on March 15. They said they had found nothing that would identify her but were puzzled by the three playing cards left beside the body.

In a microblog post published by Hangzhou police officer Hu Bing, netizens were offered a reward if they could solve the puzzle or provide clues to the case.

The post used the image of Detective Conan, quoting the character saying: "Case closed. One truth prevails."

In one picture, a photo of the dead woman's face is next to the cartoon character who is saying: "Do you know her? If so, tell me. I must bring her justice."

The post has been forwarded more than 18,000 times since it was published on Saturday.

"If the woman carried the cards, she might be sending a message to help police catch the murderer. But if the cards were thrown by the murderer, he or she might be taunting the police," was one online comment.

"Are the three cards meaning 'save me quickly'?" asked a Hangzhou resident surnamed Zhou.

In Chinese, "J" and "K" are the first letters in pinyin for "save" and "quickly." While on the Internet, many netizens use the number "five" to mean "me" as the two words sound similar in Chinese.

Many people said they felt very uncomfortable about the dead woman's photo being published alongside the cartoon image.

"Let's set aside the copyright problem of directly using the image of the cartoon character. Firstly, shouldn't death and the murder case be very serious topics?" asked microblogger Hecaitou.

"The way that the police put the corpse photo next to the cartoon character seems like entertaining the public with the murder case," he said.

Hu, the police officer who published the post, said that he was trying all the ways he knew to find clues that could help catch the woman's killer.

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