Gruesome murder, dismemberment of Hong Kong model Abby Choi shocks the world: Here's what you should know
HONG KONG - A gruesome murder case that happened in the former British colony of Hong Kong has sent shockwave throughout Asia and the rest of the world.
According to officials with the Hong Kong Police Force, four people have been arrested in connection with the murder of Abby Choi, a model and social media influencer who was known amongst the city's rich and famous.
Here's what you should know about the murder.
(This story contains details that some may find disturbing. Discretion is advised)
While statements issued by officials with the Hong Kong Police Force did not identify the victim, Hong Kong English newspaper South China Morning Post (SCMP) has identified the victim as Abby Choi Tin-fung.
The Associated Press, along with Hong Kong Chinese news website HK01, have also identified the victim as Abby Choi.
According to Hong Kong Police, Choi was last seen during the afternoon hours on this day.
In an article published by SCMP, it is stated that Choi was set to pick up a daughter she had with her ex-husband, but the child was never picked up.
A missing person's report, according to police, was filed on Feb. 22.
Officials with the Hong Kong Police Force said they found "some sections of a human body" inside a home at a village about 18 miles northeast of where the woman was last seen.
"The deceased was suspected to be the missing woman," read a portion of a statement released by the Hong Kong Police Force on Feb. 25. "A meat slicer, an electric saw and some clothing in suspected connection with the case were seized at scene."
According to the AP, Police Superintendent Alan Chung said that officers discovered two legs that belonged to a woman in the refrigerator, as well as the victim’s identity card, credit cards and other items in the house.
Human tissues were found in pots of soup, Chung said.
Meanwhile, police are searching for more body parts.
"The suspects threw away several bags of important evidence in the morning of Feb. 22. They may be some human body parts or they could be the clothes and the phone of the victim, or even the weapons," said Supt. Chung.
A skull and several ribs were found in a large soup pot on this day, according to a report by the SCMP.
According to police, three men, ranging in age from 28 to 65, are jointly accused of murder on connection with the case, while a 63-year-old woman has been accused of perverting the course of justice.
According to a report by Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK, three men and a woman arrested in connection with the case have appeared in court. The case was adjourned by a judge until May, in order to give the police more time to investigate the case.
The same report states that parts of Choi's body, including the torso and hands, remain missing.
The AP reported that police officers are searching a landfill for evidence related to Choi's murder.
A report by RTHK stated that some bones were found during the search, but it is unclear whether the bones are actually human remains.
(The video above is that of a news conference held by Hong Kong Police Force Superintendent Alan Chung on Mar. 2 on the murder investigation. Most of the news conference was in Cantonese Chinese, which is the predominant language in Hong Kong, but an English question was asked at around the 4-minute mark. A response to that question was also given in English.)
In a news conference, Supt. Chung announced the arrest of another person in connection with the murder.
The person, identified as a 41-year-old man with the surname Lam, was arrested during the afternoon hours of Mar. 2. He is accused of assisting another suspect.
"The man works at a yacht rental company," said Supt. Chung, in Cantonese Chinese. "We have reason to believe that the man, after the crime took place, tried to take a sum of money to help one of the suspects leave Hong Kong via a maritime route."
In response to a question asked by a reporter, Supt. Chung said they believe Lam knew about what happened with regard to Choi's murder. However, they are still investigating what links Lam had with the suspects.
Supt. Chung also said they do not rule out the possibility of additional arrests being made in connection with Choi's murder.
In the same news conference, Supt. Chung said that the landfill search focused on a soccer field-sized area of the landfill, and dug about 5 meters (~16.4 feet) deep during a three-day period. However, officers found no evidence pertinent to the case, and the search has concluded.
It should be noted that there are no unitary standard set for soccer field sizes worldwide. However, on the website of Football NSW, which is a state-level soccer group in Australia, it is stated that FIFA recommendations call for a field that is 105 meters (~344.49 feet) long and 68 meters (~223.1 feet) wide.
Supt. Chung, during the news conference, said they are following multiple leads, but refused to say what next steps they are going to take in the investigation.
Hong Kong English language newspaper The Standard reported on Mar. 6 that the skull and legs found inside a home from Feb. 24 to 26 have been identified as those of Choi, via DNA testing.
On Mar. 7, officials with the Hong Kong Police Force announced a seventh arrest in connection with Choi's murder.
In a brief statement, officials said they have arrested a 29-year-old woman who allegedly assisted one of the suspects in the case.
Read More: Abby Choi murder: Hong Kong Police ID skull found in soup pot as that of slain model; new arrest made
Who's the victim?
As mentioned above, the victim has been identified by Hong Kong media outlets as Abby Choi Tin-fung.
An article published by HK01 (in Chinese) describes Choi as a famous woman who, at the time of her death, was partnered with a man named "Chris," who is the son of the founder of a restaurant chain in the city.
While some articles state that she was married to Chris, an article by HK01 (in Chinese) states that the marriage was never actually registered with the city's government.
According to the AP, Choi's last post to social media was made on Feb. 19, featuring a photo shoot she had done with fashion magazine L’Officiel Monaco.
In their article, which was published on Feb. 12, Choi was described as a "fashion icon" and "media personality."
"Abby has carved out a name for herself as one of the most sought-after influencers in the industry," read a portion of the article.
Who are the suspects?
According to the AP, the suspects are identified as:
- Alex Kwong, Choi's ex-husband
- Kwong Kau, Alex Kwong's father
- Anthony Kwong, Alex Kwong's brother
- Jenny Li, Alex Kwong's mother
- A person identified by the SCMP as a 47-year-old woman with the surname "Ng." That woman was reportedly in a relationship with Kwong Kau
- A 41-year-old man, identified by RTHK as Lam Shun
- A 29-year-old woman, identified by RTHK as Pun Hau-yin
Alex Kwong, according to HK01 (in Chinese), was reportedly arrested as he tried to leave Hong Kong via a motorboat.
The three Kwongs, according to reports, are accused of murder, while Li is accused of perverting the course of justice, and Ng is accused of assisting the other suspects in the case by allegedly helping to hide Alex.
As mentioned above, Lam is accused of helping the suspects by trying to take money from one of the suspects in return for helping them leave Hong Kong.
The three Kwongs, along with Li, were reportedly not granted bail.
The Kwongs, according to Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao (in Chinese), have been at the center of prior legal controversies.
Kwong Kau, according to the article, once served on the Hong Kong Police Force before he resigned in the mid-2000s amid accusations he sexually assaulted a woman. The article noted that while Kau was arrested, there were no subsequent reports of him being charged with a crime.
Alex Kwong, according to the Ming Pao article, was reportedly arrested in connection with a fraud scheme that allegedly took place from 2014 to 2015.
Both Alex and Anthony, according to the Ming Pao article, were also allegedly involved in a number of civil lawsuits over debt payments.
What's the motive for the gruesome murder?
An exact motive has not been announced by Hong Kong police officials. However, according to the AP, Choi had financial disputes involving tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars (millions of U.S. Dollars) with her ex-husband and his family.
Police officials also said that "some people" were unhappy with how Choi handled her finances.
An article by HK01 (in Chinese) states that Choi reportedly gave financial support to her ex-husband's family even after their divorce. She reportedly employed Anthony as her chauffeur, and even bought an apartment flat for the family in Kwong Kau's name.
The report states that the financial disputes were over a desire by Choi to sell the property she bought for her ex-husband's family.
On Mar. 7, RTHK reported that Choi's mother is seeking a court order to block Kwong Kau from selling the apartment flat. The flat is described as a luxury property located in a residential area that is described by an SCMP article in 2020 as one of Hong Kong's most prestigious areas of its kind.
Is violent crime common in Hong Kong?
The AP has noted that violent crime is rare in Hong Kong, and for that reason, Choi's murder has transfixed many in the former British colony, as well as people in Mainland China.
While violent crime is rare in Hong Kong, Choi's murder, according to the AP, recalls a handful of other shocking killings.
In 2013, a man killed his parents and their heads were later found in refrigerators. In another infamous 1999 case, a woman was kidnapped and tortured by three members of an organized crime group before her death. Her skull was later found stuffed in a Hello Kitty doll.
Cases similar to the Abby Choi murder have happened in the Hong Kong area in the past.
According to a 2021 article by SCMP, a woman named was accused of murdering her husband in 1988 by dismembering his body and cooking the pieces before throwing them into the trash. The woman was later found guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, as the woman was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Meanwhile, a 2018 article by SCMP mentioned a murder in nearby Macao that happened in 1984. In that case, the owner of a restaurant in the former Portuguese colony, along with nine of his family members, were murdered following a financial dispute. The bodies were reportedly dismembered, and either thrown into the sea or into the trash.
"The large number of missing body parts prompted grisly speculation that he had cooked his victims’ remains and served their meat inside the pork buns – a signature dish – sold at the place," read a portion of SCMP's article on the murder. "So rampant was the [rumor] that it inspired the 1993 Hong Kong crime thriller The Untold Story."
This story was reported on from Phoenix. The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
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People watch a screen on a Hong Kong train showing news about model and influencer Abby Choi, whose partial remains were found by the police at a house. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)