Was masseuse murdered for refusing sex at her £800,000 home?

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The voice on the answering machine tape was breathy and softly spoken. It said: "This is Angela Chiu, massage and aromatherapy from 11am until 8pm, Monday to Saturday, in my own home. There is parking in the drive. A full body massage takes one hour and costs £100."

This 20-second message - and the question of whether it initiated a grim misunderstanding which led to murder - is at the heart of the investigation into the savage killing of a 48-year-old masseuse in her luxury home in one of Britain's most sought-after strips of seaside real estate.

Police said they were looking into the possibility that Mrs Chiu, a glamorous university graduate with formal qualifications in therapeutic message and aromatherapy, was killed by a client who arrived at her six-bedroomed house in Canford Cliffs, Poole, Dorset, looking for sexual services rather than the alternative "massage" therapy she advertised in a local newspaper. Detective Inspector Steve Thorpe, the officer leading the murder hunt, said last night: "We are looking into that aspect of her lifestyle. Obviously there is a dangerous side to that sort of business."

The bloodstained body of the computer expert turned glamorous therapist, who also sold lingerie and hosiery, was found on Friday by her 18-year-old daughter, Daniella, in the bathroom of the £800,000 property, less than 100 yards from Poole's vast natural harbour.

The area, including the adjoining Sandbanks, was named three years ago as one of the world's costliest places to buy a house and is home to a long list of perma-tanned celebrities including the cricketer Geoffrey Boycott and Premiership football manager Harry Redknapp.

As forensic science officers comb Mrs Chiu's home overlooking the bay, relatives spoke of their grief. A statement from her parents, Horace and Eileen, said: "Angela's death has been a shocking and tragic loss. We are battling to come to terms with this unnecessary and violent death."

Mrs Chui, who had a post-graduate degree in law and who spoke five languages including Japanese, separated from her Hong Kong-born husband Ernest 12 years ago.

Her daily advert inThe Daily Echo, based in Bournemouth, was under the heading "Massage" and read: "Luxury massage, sauna & steam , private practice. Credit cards accepted." It appeared beside adverts for massage parlours offering "extra" sexual services. Callers to the phone number were put through to the answering-machine message, which also offered an extra two- to three-hour massage in a sauna and Jacuzzi, and asked clients to leave a number for an appointment.

DI Thorpe said it was possible that Mrs Chiu's killer had turned on her after she had refused a request for sex while giving a massage. He said: "If you are in that sort of business and advertise in the local paper, you are always going to run the risk of getting the odd call from people thinking the business is something more than it really is."

It is understood that Mrs Chiu died from multiple stab wounds to the chest during a frenzied assault between Wednesday, when she was last known to be alive after phoning a friend, and Friday, when her body was found by Daniella as she returned from holiday.

It was unclear whether the masseuse, whose entry on a local services website stated she had diplomas in therapeutic massage and nutritional medicine, had placed her advert in a section, alongside escorts and chatlines, where others offer sexual services deliberately or out of naivety.

The paper offers other classified headings, including aromatherapy, alternative therapies or beauty therapy. Advertising staff said Mrs Chiu's advert had always appeared under the "massage heading".

One massage worker who advertises on the page said yesterday: "It doesn't take much to work out what 'massage' means in that section. I'm worried about what's happened; you don't know whose going to knock on your door."

But detectives backed away from the suggestion that the party-loving Mrs Chiu, who studied at Keele University with her husband after they met in Hong Kong when she was teaching abroad, had fallen into the sex trade.

DI Thorpe said: "There is nothing to suggest she ran anything more than a legitimate business from home." Police declined to comment on whether the therapist had been sexually assaulted or whether her body was discovered clothed.

Mrs Chui shared her house with a boyfriend who was on holiday abroad last week. Daniella's father has flown in from Hong Kong.