Diana O'Brien of British Columbia was found dead in a stairwell of her apartment building Sunday by her roommate, another model from British Columbia, the Canwest News Service said.
Her boyfriend, Joel Berry, told Canwest police suggested the homicide resulted from a bungled break-in that turned fatal.
"Everything had been stolen from the apartment -- all their cameras and laptops," Berry said.
O'Brien was two weeks into an assignment with China's Jh Model Agency but told a friend by e-mail she wasn't happy, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported.
"She kept getting jobs to go to clubs to promote whiskey that just involved dancing on podiums. ... She thought that was pretty ridiculous," friend Melanie Callas told the newspaper.
A search of Chinese media Tuesday found no local reports of her death, although Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs was advised of it through diplomatic channels, CTV news said.