Police look for evidence in slain Hong Kong model’s case

In this photo taken and provided by Pao Jo-yee, model Abby Choi, holding a cat, poses for a photo on Feb. 11, 2023, in Hong Kong. (Pao Jo-yee via AP)

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong police began searching a landfill Tuesday for evidence related to the grisly killing of model Abby Choi, whose dismembered body parts were found in a refrigerator and pots.

Ex-husband Alex Kwong, his father Kwong Kau and his brother Anthony Kwong were charged with murder after police found her remains in a house rented by Kwong Kau in a suburban part of Hong Kong near the border with mainland China. Alex Kwong’s mother, Jenny Li, faces one count of perverting the course of justice. All four were detained without bail.

In this image taken from video footage run by TVB Hong Kong, journalists film a police van believed to be carrying relatives of murdered model Abby Choi on its arrival at the Kowloon City Law Courts Building in Hong Kong, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (TVB Hong Kong via AP)

They have not yet entered their pleas, and it does not appear that their lawyers have commented on the case to the media. The hearing was adjourned until May.

On Tuesday morning, more than 100 officers wearing protective gear went to North East New Territories Landfill in Ta Kwu Ling, about a 15-minute drive from mainland China, to search for the missing body parts with excavators and shovels. Police had said earlier they were still looking for her hands and torso.

“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,” Superintendent Alan Chung told reporters.

Chung said they could not find anything substantial yet, other than bones, which police could not ascertain if they belonged to a human or animals.

n this image taken from video footage provided by TVB Hong Kong, Police Superintendent Alan Chung speaks to the media following a murder case of a model, in Hong Kong on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. (TVB Hong Kong via AP)

Choi’s family, dressed in black, gathered near the house where her body parts were found to pay respects. They earlier visited a mortuary to identify her. Some mourners were emotional but the family did not appear to have responded to reporters’ questions.

Alex Kwong appeared in another court Tuesday for a previous theft case, where he jumped bail.

Another woman who had been arrested for allegedly assisting other suspects in the case was released on bail pending further investigation, police said. She was believed to have been in an affair with the ex-husband’s father, the force said earlier.

Choi, who had more than 100,000 followers on Instagram, disappeared Feb. 21, according to a report filed later with the Hong Kong Police. Her last post was Feb. 19, featuring a photo shoot she had done with fashion magazine L’Officiel Monaco.

Choi had financial disputes involving tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars (millions of dollars) with her ex-husband and his family, police said, adding that “some people” were unhappy with how Choi handled her finances.

The gruesome killing has transfixed many in Hong Kong and across the border in mainland China, since the semiautonomous southern Chinese city has a very low level of violent crime.

Choi’s friend Bernard Cheng earlier said he initially thought she had been kidnapped.

“I haven’t imagined a person who’s so good, so full of love, so innocent, a person who doesn’t do anything bad will be killed like this,” he said. “My heart is still heavy. I can’t sleep well.”

Cheng said Choi had four children, aged between 3 and 10. Alex Kwong, 28, was the father of the older two, who are being taken care of by Choi’s mother. Choi had remarried to Chris Tam, father of the younger children, who are staying with his family.

Choi had good relationships with her family, including her in-laws, Cheng said, and would travel with the families of her current and former husbands together.

While violent crime is rare in Hong Kong, the case 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.