University of Hong Kong professor accused of murdering his wife ‘used two boxes to avoid detection’
Police source says Cheung Kie-chung, under arrest over wife’s murder, tried to evade detection by making one box into a makeshift coffin, and another as a decoy
A University of Hong Kong professor whose wife’s decomposing body was found in his office bought two sets of wooden boards to cover up the murder, fashioning one into a makeshift coffin and using the other as a decoy, a police source said.
But associate professor Cheung Kie-chung’s plan was foiled when officers discovered the double purchase and swooped on his office on Tuesday to find the corpse, the source said.
Cheung, 53, from HKU’s department of mechanical engineering, was arrested after police made the discovery.
The source said Cheung knew CCTV cameras at Wei Lun Hall – where he lived and where the alleged murder took place – would film him moving the body from the building, so he made a box from six wooden boards. He had already reported his wife missing, claiming she walked out after an argument, so also knew police were investigating.
He put the body in the box and took it to his office in the Haking Wong Building on HKU’s Pokfulam Road campus.
“This box was well sealed with window glue, to prevent blood seepage and contain any smell emitted from the decomposing body,” the source said.
He said Cheung left the other set of boards in a workshop in the same building. When asked what happened to the box he was carrying in the CCTV footage, Cheung claimed he used it to deliver something, then dismantled it and left the pieces in the workshop.
But police soon discovered he had bought two sets of wooden boards and, noting that the CCTV footage never showed his wife leaving Wei Lun Hall, they made a surprise raid on Cheung’s office and found the body there on Tuesday afternoon.
After his arrest, the suspect remained tight-lipped and uncooperative, according to the source.
Cheung reported his wife missing on August 20, citing the dispute, which he said happened in the early hours of August 17.
On August 16, the wife argued with their daughter, who is 28 and works as a corruption investigator. The daughter left home. The next day, the wife blamed Cheung for not supporting her during the earlier argument, sparking a row between the couple. After that, Cheung reported her missing.
A source said the killing was probably an impulsive act, because of the errors Cheung made, leading officers to the body.
Police sources said they would study the result of the postmortem examination before deciding whether to lay a murder charge.
The victim was found in her underwear, with an electric wire tied around her neck, suggesting she could have been strangled. Police said they were yet to determine the time and cause of death, but the source said it seemed the woman had been dead for days when she was found.
Cheung is a member of the university’s governing council and vice chairman of its Academic Staff Association.
Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, police escorted Cheung, hooded and handcuffed, to Wei Lun Hall. Cheung is the warden of the hall, on Sassoon Road, where he lives with his family, including the daughter and his 26-year-old dentist son.
About an hour later, he was driven back to the headquarters of Hong Kong Island regional crime unit in Wan Chai.
By 2pm on Wednesday, Cheung was still being held for questioning and had not been charged.