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Crime in Hong Kong

Murder or suicide? Hong Kong police offer evidence suggesting student found dead in flat might have killed herself

The 21-year-old woman discovered with head wounds and marks on neck when mother returned home had bought 100 pieces of plastic cable tie

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 February, 2018, 9:20am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2018, 9:18am

Police investigating the case of a Hong Kong woman found dead from suffocation offered new evidence on Tuesday that she might have committed suicide.

Cheung Ming-ha, 21, was discovered in the living room of her Tseung Kwan O flat with head wounds and marks on her neck when her mother, 46, returned to their home soon after 8pm on Monday. Police sources had described the scene as “unusual”.

Senior Inspector Lo Man-fai of the Kowloon East regional crime unit said initial investigation suggested Cheung had died from suffocation and officers believed the marks on her neck were caused by a plastic cable tie.

“We also found a 1.5cm-long wound in the back of her head,” Lo said, adding that authorities were still waiting for a full autopsy report. “While investigating if this was murder, we cannot rule out other possibilities such as suicide.”

However, more evidence emerged on Tuesday evening to suggest that Cheung might have tried to kill herself.

A police source said Cheung had suffered from mental illness for 10 years and had not attended any medical appointments since December last year.

“CCTV showed that she went to Tseung Kwan O plaza on Monday afternoon,” the insider said. “She bought a pack of 100 pieces of plastic cable tie and went home alone at around 3pm.”

But the force had not yet confirmed whether she did kill herself and the case was still being treated as “dead body found”.

At midnight, the case was classified as a murder. It was reclassified because police did not find anyone suspicious entering or leaving the building based on CCTV footage.

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“The windows and main door were not pried open,” Lo said.

He added that while blood was found in the kitchen, bedrooms and living room of the 600 sq ft flat, there were no further signs of a struggle or that the place had been ransacked. There was also no property stolen.

Sources told the Post that Cheung was a troubled pupil who had dropped out of school but later returned to her studies. She was a Form Six pupil at CCC Kung Lee College in Tai Hang in Causeway Bay at the time of the incident.

According to the school’s website, Cheung was presented with the “best improvement award” in 2016. She was also the second runner-up in a Hong Kong-China writing competition in the same year.

On the day of the incident, Cheung’s mother had gone out in the afternoon, leaving her daughter at home. Cheung later called her mother to tell her that she would be going out for coffee.

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Lo said the mother was in shock and sent to hospital for treatment after discovering her daughter’s body.

Detectives collected bags and boxes of Cheung’s personal belongings, including bloodstained clothes, photos and bedsheets. They were also to take statements from neighbours.

Officers from the Police Tactical Unit swept the scene for evidence.

Lo said officers would look into Cheung’s health, mental state and financial situation before her death.

No one has been arrested.