Content material warning: This story incorporates descriptions of violence that readers might discover disturbing.

Hong Kong

The postcard picture of Hong Kong is one in every of glitzy skyscrapers towards lush mountains, dim sum eating places and funding bankers in fits.

However in latest weeks, the worldwide monetary hub has once more been within the headlines for one thing darker: the loss of life of mannequin and influencer Abby Choi, whose dismembered physique elements had been discovered together with a meat slicer and electrical noticed in a rental unit final month.

The loss of life of the 28-year-old mom has not solely horrified a metropolis often ranked as one of many world’s most secure, however gripped a lot of the world’s media with the grisly particulars of her alleged killing.

For Hong Kongers, it has additionally resurfaced painful recollections of earlier instances of dismemberment within the metropolis – many focusing on younger ladies and virtually all perpetrated by males.

There’s the so-called “Hi there Kitty” homicide of 1999, when 23-year-old Fan Man-yee was kidnapped by gang members and brutally tortured for a month earlier than her loss of life and dismemberment. Her cranium was ultimately discovered sewn inside a Hi there Kitty plush doll.

There have been the 4 ladies, the youngest solely 17 years previous, killed by a taxi driver who saved their dismembered physique elements in jars earlier than his arrest in 1982. Then got here 16-year-old Wong Ka-mui, who was strangled and dismembered in 2008 and her stays flushed down a bathroom.

And in 2013, Glory Chau and Moon Siu had been murdered and dismembered by their 28-year-old son, against the law described by the choose as “evil” and “completely hideous.”

Reams of headlines adopted every homicide. However for all of the media consideration, consultants level out such instances are exceptionally uncommon in Hong Kong, a metropolis with an extremely low price of violent crime for its inhabitants of seven.4 million.

Hong Kong sees only some dozen homicides every year, in comparison with a number of hundred in New York. And it recorded solely 77 robberies final yr – in comparison with greater than 17,000 in New York and 24,000 in London.

So why the massive curiosity in these last few instances? Their rarity, mixed with their brutality, is one issue, consultants say.

However there could also be one other at play: That buried beneath all of the grim particulars of loss of life is a peculiar perception into dwelling in one of many world’s most densely populated cities.

Roderic Broadhurst, an emeritus professor of criminology at Australian Nationwide College beforehand based mostly in Hong Kong, the place he based the Hong Kong Centre for Criminology, estimated there had been a dozen or so dismemberment instances within the metropolis over the previous 50 years.

Philip Beh, a semi-retired forensic pathologist who has beforehand labored with the Hong Kong police, gave a barely decrease estimate, saying he might recall fewer than 10 such instances in his 40-year profession.

Each consultants emphasised that Hong Kong continues to be very secure, and that these numbers are comparatively low. Certainly, Hong Kong’s popularity for security meant the few instances that did happen left a stronger “imprint” on the town, Broadhurst stated.

However each additionally instructed the ugly nature of those previous instances – particularly, the dismembering of limbs – replicate the realities of life in Hong Kong.

Merely put, it’s a lot tougher to cover a physique within the tightly packed metropolis, residence to tiny residences and a number of the world’s most densely populated neighborhoods.

Somebody making an attempt to eliminate a physique in rural areas of Australia, Canada or the USA has “an excellent likelihood of getting away with it,” due to the ample area and open terrain, Beh stated.

Not so in Hong Kong.

“These are primarily people who find themselves making an attempt to get away with against the law, however failing to take action,” stated Beh.

A killer in Hong Kong extra doubtless than not will stay inside just some toes of dozens of people that might spot them making an attempt to eliminate a corpse prompting some to interrupt victims into smaller elements for disposal.

“Most individuals stay in house blocks on high of one another. We don’t have people with homes and gardens the place you’ll be able to exit and dig a gap and attempt to bury a physique,” Beh stated. “You’re by no means actually alone; your neighbors are above you, under you, subsequent to you. Something out of the odd will catch somebody’s consideration.”

Broadhurst agreed, declaring that in house buildings, a assassin might need to get into an elevator shared by greater than 100 households simply to go exterior.

A number of earlier instances have concerned killers who cooked or boiled physique elements – particulars which have horrified the general public, and sure fueled by unsubstantiated rumors surrounding instances just like the 1985 “pork bun murders” in neighboring Macao. A person killed a household of 10 together with the house owners of a restaurant, and – because the city legend (and the film it impressed) goes – supposedly served them up in buns.

However the rationalization is way extra mundane generally, Beh stated.

In Hong Kong’s subtropical, humid local weather, “the scent of the physique in a short time captures consideration,” he stated – therefore why some murderers may try to take away the scent by cooking dismembered elements.

As for why these killers didn’t use strategies generally seen in different nations – protecting the physique within the freezer, dumping them within the water late at evening – Hong Kong’s density poses one more problem.

In its notoriously costly housing market, residences are often too small and cramped for big furnishings or kitchen home equipment.

“Only a few people have massive fridges at residence,” Beh stated. “Even fewer have freezers. You’ll be able to’t even hold the physique when you needed to.”

He added that the identical shortage applies to vehicles – and thus the identical problem in discreetly transporting a physique.

Few residents personal autos since buildings with locations to park are at a premium – in 2019, a parking area offered for almost $1 million {dollars}, a document – and the town has an in depth, environment friendly public transit system anyway.

These mixed elements might clarify numerous instances over time the place killers used weird, grotesque strategies to cope with their victims’ our bodies – corresponding to the lady murdered by her husband in 2018 and her physique saved in a suitcase, or the 28-year-old man whose physique was present in a block of cement in 2016.

“We stay in a spot the place primarily, when you’ve got killed somebody, your subsequent very urgent query is: What do you do with the physique?” Beh stated.

“There are only a few choices.”

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