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Amanda Lee and Michelle Chin
The Straits Times
Feb 25, 2023
The gruesome murder of Hong Kong socialite Abby Choi is believed to have been plotted by her former father-in-law, and the rented house where her body parts were discovered was used as a butchery, police said on Saturday.
Ms Choi’s former husband, who had been on the run, was arrested on Saturday, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
Police had earlier arrested the parents and brother of Ms Choi’s former husband. The three will face murder charges.
Media reports quoted an unnamed police source as saying that the former father-in-law, who used to be a policeman, was unhappy with Ms Choi’s handling of a luxury property. He has not been named yet.
On Friday, the Hong Kong police said the murder was “premeditated” and “well planned”, after the 28-year-old victim’s body parts were discovered in a house in Lung Mei Tsuen village in Tai Po, a suburb in the city.
A unit on the ground floor of the three-storey house was set up as a butchery, said police.
“We are still looking for the head,” Superintendent Alan Chung told reporters, after announcing that a woman’s limbs had been found in a refrigerator.
The house had an electric saw and a meat grinder had been used to mince human flesh, said Supt Chung. Two pots of stew “believed to contain human tissue” were left at the scene, he added.
Ms Choi’s torso and hands have not been found yet.
Divers from the elite Special Duties Unit, known as the Flying Tigers, were deployed to carry out an underwater search for the missing body parts at a water catchment area in Tseung Kwan O cemetery on Saturday afternoon.
As night fell with no major breakthrough, police said they will continue their search on Sunday morning.
The village house had been recently rented out and was unfurnished, suggesting that it had been set up to dispose of Ms Choi’s body, said Supt Chung.
It is believed that the former father-in-law, who rented the unit in February, masterminded the murder, according to the police source.
Ms Choi’s former husband – identified as Alex Kwong by local media – was caught at the Tung Chung waterfront at about 1pm on Saturday, according to news reports.
“It is possible he was waiting for a speedboat to flee the city illegally,” a source was quoted by SCMP as saying.
Local media reported that the former husband is allegedly a wanted criminal involved in a HK$5 million (S$860,000) gold scam and that the police had been looking for him for many years.
Initial police investigations found that Ms Choi had recently planned to sell a Kadoorie Hill property in Ho Man Tin that she had bought under her former father-in-law’s name.
Ho Man Tin is an upmarket residential neighbourhood in central Kowloon.
Ms Choi is said to have promised to relocate her former husband and his family members elsewhere. However, the move sparked fierce opposition from her former father-in-law, who had several arguments with her, the source added.
The murder is believed to have been committed over the dispute concerning that property, which cost tens of millions of dollars.
The probe also found that Ms Choi had not registered her marriage with her current husband, the son of the founder of TamJai Yunnan Mixian, a casual restaurant chain in Hong Kong with operations in mainland China.
This means that her assets would be inherited by her two children – a son and a daughter – with Kwong, reports said.
Some villagers were reportedly disturbed that the gruesome murder had taken place near their homes.
“Some have suggested that we organise a Taoist ceremony to calm the spirit of the deceased, but another representative said we should respect the family of the deceased and contact them first,” said a villager, adding that village representatives had not contacted Ms Choi’s family yet.
A source told SCMP the police suspect that before Ms Choi went missing, her former brother-in-law, who worked as her chauffeur, drove to her home in Kadoorie Hill to meet her.
The two were heading to pick up Ms Choi’s daughter. It is unclear what the pickup time was.
Ms Choi was reported missing on Tuesday after she failed to pick up her daughter.