London woman found guilty of decapitating friend over inheritance

A woman has been found guilty of killing her friend and dumping her headless body more than 200 miles away in order to inherit hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Jemma Mitchell hit Mee Kuen Chong, 67, over the head with a weapon at her home in London and is believed to have kept the decapitated body for two weeks before disposing of it in woodland in Salcombe, Devon.

Mitchell, 38, had forged a copy of Chong’s will so that 95% of the £700,000-plus estate was left in her name.

She devised the plan after Chong, who was known as Deborah, backed out of giving her £200,000 to pay for repairs to Mitchell’s £4m family home, days before the murder.

Det Ch Insp Jim Eastwood, who led the investigation, said: “The motivation for Jemma Mitchell’s actions was money and she showed a significant degree of planning and calculation as she attempted to cover up her horrific actions. The cold facts of this case are shocking.

“Deborah Chong was a vulnerable lady. In the weeks before her murder, she was seeking help for her declining mental health.

“However, Mitchell – so desperate to obtain the money she needed to complete the renovations on her house – sought to take advantage of Deborah’s good will. But when Deborah changed her mind, she callously murdered her and embarked upon an attempt to fraudulently obtain her estate.”

Mitchell, who met Chong through a church group and acted as a spiritual healer for her, is believed to have killed her on the morning of 11 June last year. She was captured on CCTV leaving the address, struggling to pull two large, wheeled suitcases.

A pathologist said Chong’s skull fractures could have been caused by being pushed on to a protruding surface or being hit with a weapon, although none was recovered.

Mitchell is believed to have stored Chong’s remains in the garden of the home she shared with her retired mother in Willesden, north-west London. After Chong’s lodger reported her missing, Mitchell messaged them to say Chong had gone to spend time with her family for a year to clear her head and planned to stay “somewhere close to the ocean”.

On 26 June, Mitchell drove to the coastal town of Salcombe, where she dumped Chong’s remains. En route, her Volvo blew a tyre and she drove into a service station to seek assistance. The person called to change the wheel said Mitchell appeared “confused” and there was an “odd, musty smell” inside the vehicle.

Chong’s body was found by holidaymakers the following day by an overgrown pathway, with her head a few metres away. Identification was delayed because of decomposition. On 30 June, Mitchell made a report to a missing persons charity, saying Chong had contacted her to say she felt neglected and was staying with family by the sea.

Once the body had been identified, Mitchell quickly emerged as a suspect after detectives spoke to those who knew Chong. Mitchell was arrested at her home on 6 July but declined to answer any of the questions put to her in custody before being charged with murder on 9 July. A search of her home uncovered Chong’s personal papers and the fake will.

A jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for seven hours before finding Mitchell guilty of murder on Thursday.

Mitchell grew up in Australia, where her mother worked for the British Foreign Office, and set up an osteopathy business there before returning to the UK in 2015.

On her website, she said she was “attuned to subjects in neuroanatomy, genetics and dissection of human cadavers”.

After her conviction, it can be reported that Mitchell has a conviction for a breach of a non-molestation order relating to family members.

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