Niagara Regional Police Insp. Jim McCaffery told reporters Friday that investigators have determined the woman was the victim of a homicide, though they don’t know how her remains entered the water.
"We have conducted an examination of the immediate area where the body was found, however, we cannot accurately assess where the body went in," McCaffery said during a Friday afternoon news conference.
McCaffery said police estimate that the remains were in the water for four to 10 days. He would not reveal what investigators know about the cause of death.
The torso was missing its arms, legs and head when pulled from the water. McCaffery would not say if the remains were clothed when found.
Police revealed Thursday that a woman’s torso had been found in the lower Niagara River earlier this week, after citizens spotted it floating in the water.
Asked why police waited until Thursday to notify the public about the discovery of the remains on the day before, McCaffery said investigators needed time to gather information about what had happened.
"We had limited information that we could provide to the public, we were hoping the post-mortem examination would be complete and we would be able to provide information to the public," McCaffery said.
"It’s taken longer than usual, but the identity is critical."
A post-mortem examination has determined that the remains belong to a middle-aged, white female. McCaffery said the victim had a pierced navel and there are indications she had at least one caesarian section and had undergone a tubal ligation procedure.
McCaffery said the Niagara Regional Police have contacted other police agencies in Ontario and New York state and asked them to review their missing persons cases.
The investigation in Niagara Region is not related to the investigation into the death of Guang Hua Liu, the Toronto woman whose body parts turned up in two cities earlier this month.
Liu’s former boyfriend was recently arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Another case involving a dismembered body also made headlines in Canada this year, when parts of a victim’s body turned up in Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal.
Police would soon identify the victim as Jun Lin, an international student who had been studying at Montreal’s Concordia University.
His alleged killer, Luka Rocco Magnotta, was arrested in a Berlin café and subsequently extradited to Canada to face charges of first-degree murder, indignity to a human body and other criminal counts.